Psychiatry journals teemed with more than a thousand studies on ADHD conducted by … pharma-sponsored scientists.
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The Food and Drug Administration relied upon them when green-lighting medications as safe and effective. The whirlwind created a self-affirming circle of science, one that quashed all dissent. His story ultimately intersects with that of two other individuals Schwarz follows; both were misdiagnosed with ADHD as children and subsequently began to abuse stimulants and other substances. One of the pair faked the answers on an ADHD questionnaire when he was a child in the hope that stimulants would improve his sagging grades.
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The curious story of Adderall starts with a decades-old weight-loss amphetamine called Obetrol, which was being produced by a small company called Rexar. The FDA documents regarding the affair are available online here. Along comes Roger Griggs, a former high school football coach, who started a small pharmaceutical company named Richwood Pharmaceutical and became interested in scooping up Rexar. Of course it would—with the right marketing.
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The FDA quickly put a halt to the baldly outrageous undertaking, and Richmond responded by starting a trial and submitting a new drug application. Dishonest advertising with medical messaging has always made plenty of money, ranging from outrageous ads featuring physicians touting the health benefits of smoking to misleading ADHD drug advertisements in the twenty-first century. The history of direct-to-consumer DTC drug advertising is rather fascinating. Although this did not actually make the practice illegal, pharmaceutical companies avoided it in the subsequent decades.
ADHD drug-makers, however, helped sweep this tradition into the dustbin of history. The advertising quickly went beyond the pale, a decline Schwarz traces. On the horizon, however, a much larger market for adults glimmered like gold. Big Pharma then spent considerable resources promoting public awareness of the illness. Yet none of this delegitimizes the diagnosis of ADHD and none of this precludes the fact that stimulants are useful for those with the illness. Indeed, the weight of the medical advance shows that stimulants do indeed reduce ADHD symptoms. Nonetheless, the benefits of stimulants are probably often oversold.
While many may be content with the fact that the drugs have a beneficial effect on ongoing symptoms, others have no doubt been led to believe that they can have a permanently life-altering effect, steering a child or adult off a ruinous path and onto a successful and happier life course. While this is conceivably possible, there is simply insufficient evidence to say so. Many consider the scrupulous reviews and meta-analyses that the Collaboration carries out to be a gold-standard of bias-free evidence synthesis in clinical medicine.
The drugs, that is to say, worked. However, the investigators made several other important observations. Additionally, there were non-serious but real side effects: They found that those on Ritalin were about 60 per cent more likely to have problems sleeping, and per cent more likely to have a reduced appetite. But most importantly of all, as they describe, the vast majority of these studies were short-term trials, with an average length of only two months.
Compare these relatively modest conclusions with the enthusiasm frequently exuded by the ADHD commentariat. So you passed the test. Welcome to the illustrious club [of ADHD]! Medication works about 80 percent of the time. And when it works it works like eyeglasses! Such enthusiasm again goes well beyond the evidence. The New York Times. Three Rivers Press.
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Martin's Press. The Independent.
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The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2 June Retrieved 13 October As a child, I had a problem reading.
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