Lawsuits allege Ritalin conspiracy; Congressman orders probe : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Friday September 15 8:06 AM ET

Lawsuits allege Ritalin conspiracy; Congressman orders probe


By Karen Pallarito

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis is denying allegations that the company conspired with the American Psychiatric Association to create the disease known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in order to fuel the market for its drug Ritalin.

The charges against the Swiss drugmaker were leveled in class action lawsuits filed in California and New Jersey on Wednesday.

A Novartis spokesman, who had not seen the lawsuits, told Reuters that he could not respond directly, but he dismissed the allegation that Novartis conspired with the psychiatric association to invent the disorder.

``This disease is described even earlier. It was described by psychiatric societies. It was described in a lot of the best medical journals and we are not the only ones on the market,'' the spokesman said.

Methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin, is also available in generic form through Celltech Group Plc's Medeva unit. Shire Pharmaceuticals Group Plc has a rival product to treat ADHD called Adderall.

Shares of all three companies were down in Thursday trading. Celltech moved 1-5/16 lower to 36-15/16 and Novartis AG edged 3/8 lower to 36-3/4 on the New York Stock Exchange. Shire slipped 13/16 to 53-1/4 on NASDAQ.

In related action, the chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee on Thursday asked for a government probe of Ritalin abuse in the nation's schools. Rep. Henry J. Hyde also expressed support for legislation requiring states to certify that they have guidelines in place for ensuring against prescription drug abuse on school premises.

In a letter to US Comptroller General David Walker, Reps. Hyde and Bill McCollum (R-FL) ask the General Accounting Office to investigate the prevalence of psychostimulant abuse in the elementary and secondary schools. They proposed that the investigation look at the theft and sale of such medications and identify ``systematic factors'' contributing to the abuse, such as inadequate state laws.

ADHD diagnoses have swelled in recent years, fueling a heated debate over the controversial use of stimulants such as Ritalin. In 1996, 10% to 12% of all American school-age boys were prescribed Ritalin, according to Hyde.

``We manufacture Ritalin for use in the treatment of ADHD and we want it to be used appropriately,'' Gina Moran, a Novartis spokeswoman, told Reuters Health. ``So if there are issues with appropriate use, we welcome whatever investigations are undertaken to solve those problems,'' she said.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), September 17, 2000





-- Doomzies-Be-Them (, September 17, 2000.

Thanks hmmm. Finally a 'real' post.

My son was on ritalin for years. I took him off recently because I didnt see any change other than he was no longer in the right percentile of growth/height/weight for his age.

Since taking him off the drug, he is BETTER @ school and has grown taller and now is putting on a lil more weight. I always questioned the use of ritalin and ADHD.

I never believed my son was ADD. True, there are 'some' who fit the profile, but my son imho did not.

Thanks hmm for this post.

-- call me reg (a@regular.person), September 17, 2000.

No problem. I don't doubt that there are legitimate cases where Ritalin can be helpful or even necessary. However, it seems odd that the number of children on Ritalin has jumped so dramatically in the last few years.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), September 17, 2000.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), September 17, 2000.

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