Up to 12 per cent of all American boys aged between six and 14 are being prescribed the amphetamine Ritalin (methylphenidate) to treat behavioural disorders. But, warns the United Nations' International Narcotics Control Board, behavioural problems a
One team of researchers looked at the records of 380 pediatricians who had prescribed Ritalin to discover that half of the children who they diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) had not been given any psychological or educational testing before receiving the drug.
The UN had been asked by the US Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate the usage of Ritalin, which has increased dramatically in the US. In 1990, worldwide production was less than three tonnes but, just four years later, more than 8.5 tonnes were being prescribed. About 90 per cent of the prescriptions were for American children. The number of American children diagnosed as having ADD has risen from 900,000 in 1990 to more than two million last year.
The UN concludes that ADD has been too readily given as the reason for a whole range of behavioural difficulties by frustrated parents, public school administrators and doctors.