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Sun 1 Apr 2007 02:14 PM

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ADHD drug use tripled, reveals report

The use of drugs to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, has more than tripled worldwide since 1993, according to a report by US researchers.

The use of drugs to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, has more than tripled worldwide since 1993, according to a report by US researchers.

Spending on such drugs also rose nine-fold between 1993 and 2003, the team at the University of California found. The results were published in the journal Health Affairs.

"ADHD could become the leading childhood disorder treated with medications across the globe," said lead author Richard Scheffle in a statement. "We can expect that the already burgeoning global costs for medication treatment for ADHD will rise even more sharply over the next decade."

Approximately one in 25 American children and adolescents is currently receiving medication for ADHD.

The team used an international pharmaceutical database to examine data from nearly 70 countries. In 1993, 31 countries used ADHD drugs, but by 2003 that number had risen to 55. France, Sweden, Korea and Japan all showed increases in ADHD drug use among 5- to 19-year-olds.

"The usage of ADHD medications increased 274% during the study period," Scheffler's team wrote.

The United States topped the list, accounting for 83% of the prescriptions at a cost of US $2.4 billion in 2003. Canada and Australia also had much heavier use than the researchers predicted.

The researchers recommended monitoring use of ADHD drugs and ensuring their clinical benefits are worthwhile.

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