May 8th 2007, 12:08
Drug companies move in a slow, slow way their profits to protect. Even when an argument enters the realm of the blindingly obvious, we continue to see prevarication, the creation of sub-sub committees, review boards, and the review of review boards.
This highly successful strategy has been used on countless occasions to buy time for drugs that are either dangerous or needless.
Take, for example, the childhood condition of ADHD (attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder), which, judging by the numbers of prescriptions for Ritalin and the like that are being written in the UK and the USA alone, has reached epidemic levels.
Despite the ease that doctors seem to instantly recognize a case of ADHD, it is merely an umbrella term for a range of childhood problems that are either dubious, temporary, or even non-existent. Of course, there are 'problem' children who need help, but the numbers fall far short of the 5 million in the USA who are currently taking Ritalin.
And slowly, slowly, scientists are finally coming round to the view that additives and colourants in foods may have more to do with the 'condition' than they once thought. Researchers at Southampton University in the UK have just announced that their latest research supports earlier findings that additives affect bevaiour in children, and may be a cause of temper tantrums, poor concentration and hyperactivity - or ADHD.
These obvious conclusions are now being considered by the UK's Food Standards Agency, which determines what goes into food sold in Britain's shops. Astonishingly, for something that is not only blindingly obvious but that every parent already knows, the conclusions have been presented in private, and it will be many months before they are published in a scientific journal. Only then will they be considered 'official', by which time a sub-sub committee will no doubt be created to review the findings.
After all, we do have Ritalin sales targets to consider.
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