The Gaithersburg Address,
ADHD MEDICATIONS: RISKS AND BENEFITS
Testimony to the FDA, February 9, 2006
Good afternoon. My name is Sue Parry. I travelled here at my own expense from New Mexico because I am concerned about the safety of the stimulant drugs given to children, some as young as two years old.
I have worked as a school-based occupational therapist with students, mostly boys, who supposedly had ADHD. I am also the mother of three sons who a decade ago like too many young boys in America were at-risk of being labeled ADHD.
Much of the information given to parents about ADHD, then and now, is confusing, inconsistent and contradictory. They're told ADHD has biological underpinnings, that it runs in families, and that brain imaging studies reveal differences in the areas of the ADHD brain that govern concentration and impulse control.
They're often told to have their child screened at an early age because ADHD, if untreated, can have a negative impact on academic achievement, that they face a much greater risk of developing a co-morbid disorder, and that they are at much greater risk for early substance experimentation and abuse. Meanwhile, the psychostimulants, as well as other drugs, are routinely portrayed as benign, mild substances that are not associated with abuse or serious side effects.
What are these parents and teachers not told? They are not told that Ritalin is classified as a Schedule II drug, the strictest category of potentially abusable drugs that doctors can prescribe or that Ritalin is chemically similar to "speed," "crank" and "crack cocaine," all drugs with devastating addictive potential.
They are not told that the adverse effects of stimulants are numerous including insomnia, decreased appetite, stomachaches, headaches and nervousness. They are not told that children have died on these medications.
Parents are not told that five subcommittee hearings have been held in the House of Representatives between 1996 and 2003. That at the subcommittee hearing in July, 1996 Dr. Debra Zarin stated, "A myth surrounding the treatment of ADHD is the 'paradoxical calming effect' of stimulants such as Ritalin. It is a commonly held misconception that if a stimulant calms a child, then he must have ADHD; if he didn't have the disorder, the thinking goes, the medication would not have any effect. That is not true. Stimulants increase attention span in normal children, as well as those with ADHD." Six years later, in 2002, Dr. David Fassler made the same statement.
Parents are not told the possible future harm that may result from the diagnosis, as eloquently described by Dr. William Carey who states, "The label may be stigmatizing and harmful in the long term in ways that are only dimly appreciated today. The diagnosis of brain malfunction, which seems so useful and comforting today, may at a later time come back to plague the person. we have not had sufficient time to observe fully the possible consequences it may have for education opportunities; employment; military service; or security clearances. Labels stick firmly, especially when they involve neurological disability."
Parents are not told that the 1998 ADHD Consensus Development Conference Statement reads, "However, we do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction." The last paragraph of the statement reads, "Finally, after years of clinical research and experience with ADHD, our knowledge about the cause or causes of ADHD remains speculative."
The ADHD epidemic is a national disgrace. Our nation's children do not need more studies. They need a federal grand jury to investigate what may be the biggest healthcare fraud of all time. So far, only one government agency, the DEA's Office of Diversion Control, has stood up to this psychopharmaceutical cartel. There is at least reasonable suspicion, if not yet probable cause, to believe that ADHD is a pseudoscientific diagnosis, brought to market to increase the sales of stimulant drugs. There are a variety of issues to examine in this scheme including the potential for official corruption, bribery, kickbacks and ethics violations. I propose that the focus should be on the relationship between certain pharmaceutical companies, the so-called support groups who are funded by Big Pharma and their influence at the local, state and national levels as well as certain government researchers and officials, and other high profile figures and organizations from the ADHD industry.
Is the ADHD epidemic about neurotransmitters and chemical imbalances or is it about increased market share for drug companies, increased funding for research and increased business for medical entrepreneurs? Have our kids simply become funding mechanisms to be screened, labeled and medicated?
Someday Americans may wake up and realize that the ADHD emperor has no clothes. Meanwhile, "treating" children with psychostimulants to their central nervous systems, based on a pseudoscientific diagnosis, is not only ethically irresponsible, it is morally reprehensible.
Submitted by: Sue Parry
Las Cruces, New Mexico