Lawsuits and Ritalin

A major legal battle is shaping up over Ritalin, the drug taken by millions of school-age children to combat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Class-action lawsuits filed this week in New Jersey and California seek to hold the drug's manufacturer and a major doctors' group responsible for alleged Ritalin-related problems. The lawsuits, which are similar to one filed in Texas a few months ago, say that the maker of Ritalin conspired with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to create an illness -- ADHD -- by making the definition of the disorder so broad that it could be applied to nearly any child.

The lawsuits come in response to charges from various groups and individuals that Ritalin is widely over-prescribed The families behind the lawsuits claim the rapid rise in the use of Ritalin is the result of a conspiracy between Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, the company that makes the drug, and some of the doctors who prescribe it. It is claimed that this promotion has caused the above defendants to reap financial benefits of the diagnosis and the diagnosis is purely made for financial benefit of the defendants.

The suit alleges that, "Novartis, in combination with the American Psychiatric Association, conspired to create and promote the diagnoses of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and ADHD in a highly successful effort to increase the market for Ritalin."

"The conspiracy is to create business for the pharmaceutical company by over-defining or loosely defining the disease such that it would fit every child in America, and creating a market for clinical psychologists to treat these kids," says Dick Scruggs, the plaintiff's attorney.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a Maryland-based nonprofit support group, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), also has been named in the New Jersey and California suits. The lawsuits allege that CHADD is part of the conspiracy because it has received funding from Novartis estimated at nearly $900,000. CHADD also has come under fire for petitioning the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify Ritalin, which would subject it to fewer controls and make it easier to obtain.

Did you know:

  • Did you know that schools receive additional money from state and federal government for every child labeled and drugged? This clearly demonstrates a possible "financial incentive" for schools to label and drug children. It also backs up the alarming rise/increase in the labeling and drugging that has taken place in the last decade within our schools.
  • Did you know that parents receiving welfare money from the government can get additional funds for every child that they have labeled and drugged? In this way, many lower socio-economic parents (many times single mothers) are reeled into the drugging by these financial incentives waved in front of them in hard times, making lifestyle changes possible.
  • Did you know that by labeling your child with ADHD, you are actually labeling them with a mental illness listed in the DSM-IV, the unscientific billing bible of psychiatry?
  • Did you know that a child taking a psycho-tropic, psycho-stimulant drug after the age of 12 is ineligible for military service?
  • Did you know that the subjective checklists that are being used as criteria for diagnosis are very similar to the checklists used to determine Gifted and Talented Children? These two checklists are almost identical.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration clearly states in their report on Methylphenidate: "However, contrary to popular belief, stimulants like methylphenidate will affect normal children and adults in the same manner that they affect ADHD children. Behavioral or attentional improvements with methylphenidate treatment therefore is not diagnostic of ADHD." (p.11) This statement thoroughly contradicts what is being told to many parents by the many "professionals" that have a vested stake in the diagnosis itself.
  • The DEA further states that: "Of particular concern is that most of the ADHD literature prepared for public consumption by CHADD and other groups and available to parents, does not address the abuse potential or actual abuse of methylphenidate. Instead, methylphenidate (usually referred to as Ritalin by these groups) is routinely portrayed as a benign, mild substance that is not associated with abuse or serious side effects. In reality, however, there is an abundance of scientific literature which indicates that methylphenidate shares the same abuse potential as other Schedule II stimulants." (p.4)
  • Did you know that groups like CHADD and others available to parents are being supported financially by pharmaceutical companies? This is a red flag and demonstrates a conflict of interest in the role that these groups have regarding our children's health and well-being.
  • Did you know that there are studies such as the Berkeley Study that contends that Ritalin and other stimulants further raise the risk of drug abuse? From the Wall Street Journal, Monday, May 17, 1999 by Marilyn Chase: "Nadine Lambert, a professor of education, followed almost 500 children for 26 years. She argues that exposure to Ritalin makes the brain more susceptible to the addictive power of cocaine and doubles the risk of abuse." This study seems to never make it into the hands of parents because it doesn't support the theories of those using the diagnosis to profit off of our children. What does seem to make it into many parents hands is research indicating that if children go "untreated", which corresponds with "unmedicated" they will "self-medicate" or end up as juvenile delinquents. Sadly many of these parents are not aware that many of this biased and unproven research (one such is the Beiderman study) infiltrating our schools are actually being distributed by pharmaceutical companies, such as Novartis. This in itself is another red flag and conflict of interest surrounding our children's health.
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