Children with ADHD are prescribed drugs which may lead to stunted growth, says a new campaign.
"Some 1,350 children in the West country have been diagnosed with hyperkinetic disorder or ADHD, allowing their families to claim up to £82 a week in benefits," according to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.
AdvertisementDr Andrew Hill-Smith, speaking for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, did not dispute the figures, but said "there was "very strong evidence" that medication for these childhood conditions was effective."
The commission has been linked to the Church of Scientology, estimated that the total welfare bill for the West country alone was between £1.5million and £5.7million a year. And it labelled Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and hyperkinetic disorder as "fake" conditions.
"For those with the label, back to school may mean back to drugs. There is no scientific evidence for ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder, conditions which became a "gravy train" for the pharmaceutical industry," said Brian Daniels, spokesman.
Nationwide NHS statistics revealed that in 2014 more than one million prescription items for ADHD drugs were dished out at a cost of more than £55million to the taxpayer. Since 2000, 10.2million prescription items have been dispensed at a cost of £471million.
According to a report this year by the University of Reading, many parents prefer to take their children off Ritalin and Prozac during school holidays.
Mr Daniels said: "Despite the hype around hyperactivity, there has never been any science to support the idea of a so-called chemical imbalance, the erroneous psychiatric 'reason' for drugging children. When the holiday is over, back to school means back to drugs."
Dr Hill-Smith, a consultant child psychiatrist, defended disability payments, said, "Some kids with ADHD manage fine. But some have lots of other difficulties and really struggle. There are bound to be some children for whom the benefits of medication are marginal. But I think the commission's conclusions are fairly wild. It's a massive swipe at the entire body of research."