Your Take on “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder”?

Dec 16, 2013

The controversy around marketing practices for ADHD.

The article that made the front page of the New York Times on December 14th- “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder”-is getting a lot of attention. Alan Schwarz’s investigation into the marketing practices of what he describes as a “remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the [ADHD] syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents” has elicited over 1200 comments from readers in just over 2 days. The author writes that “sales of stimulant medication in 2012 were nearly $9 billion-more than five times the $1.7 billion a decade before.”

Among the points made:

• Doctors paid by drug companies have published research and delivered presentations that encourage physicians to make diagnoses more often that discredit growing concerns about overdiagnosis.
• Many doctors have portrayed the medications as benign-“safer than aspirin,” some say-even though they can have significant side effects and are regulated in the same class as morphine and oxycodone because of their potential for abuse and addiction.
• The American Psychiatric Association, which receives significant financing from drug companies, has gradually loosened the official criteria for the disorder to include common childhood behavior like “makes careless mistakes” or “often has difficulty waiting his or her turn.”

We’d like to hear from you about the Times' portrayal of ADD therapy and invite you to post your comments below.

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