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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Columns

Prescriptions too available for attention disorders in children


The time that humans spend as children is important. We develop learning and social skills that have vast effects on the rest of our lives during that time. However, many parents obsessing over wanting their children be a prodigies leaves little room for kids to discover themselves. Since this is the norm, the prescriptions of drugs to kids in an effort to make them better learners is liberal.

The reason behind this, among other things, is lack of understanding of the mind with children. Parents have low patience when it comes to children and feel that something must be wrong with them and that comes quick diagnosis. Kids are naturally rambunctious and full of energy.

Attention Deficit Disorder seems like a normal thing that any average person will experience — especially young children. In 1987, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder emerged as a subset of ADD that includes symptoms of irritability and restlessness.

A 2011 study shows that 11 percent of children aged 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD, which equates to 6.4 million kids across the country. Another study shows a 43 percent jump in ADHD diagnoses from 2003 to 2011

Millennials have surpassed even baby boomers as the largest generation to exist. This means a larger market for pharmaceutical companies.

If every one of those 6.4 million kids took ADHD medications like Ritalin (which costs around $77 for 100 tablets) or Adderall($622 for 100 tablets), that would cost taxpayers and out-of-pocket payers $492,800,000 and $4,236,800,000 per 100 pills collectively.

For one person’s prescription that $77 or $622 is what they would pay if they didn’t have insurance, medicare, or medicaid. With medicare and medicaid, that’s where taxpayers dollars come in. So if their dosage is twice per day — which means they will have to fill up every 50 days.

Over the course of 10 years, Ritalin and Adderall will cost more than 36 and 309.3 billion dollars, respectively, and that’s only for the top two drugs. This is not even factoring in any other illness that need medication, surgeries, doctor visits, or adults.

Children are a large market in big pharma and that’s only factoring in ADD and ADHD. There are still allergies, asthma, vaccines, and more. The problem here is the preying on the natural quirks and idiosyncrasies that every growing child has. It is even said that ADHD diagnosis is based on “clinical history” and “observations,” or in other words: a medical opinion.

This is not to say that ADHD isn’t real. According to Larry Silver M.D. ADHD is a deficiency of norepinephrine through extensive analysis of spinal fluid, blood, and urine.”  However that method is expensive and rarely performed.

It’s important to take time in diagnosing a patient; especially if they are a child. When the first instance of possible ADHD comes up, observe them over the course of a year and see how they change. Maybe then so many kids wouldn’t be on drugs.

Senior staff columnist Dana Jones is a broadcast journalism junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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