Ritalin the drug prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is been prescribed to young children in New Zealand.
But Drug agency Pharmac says that prescribing Ritalin to six-year-olds is very dangerous. Ritalin manufacturer Novartis also advises that the drug should not be given to children under six. Australia's parliamentary health secretary Christopher Pyne would ask the Therapeutic Goods Administration to conduct an investigation in to this matter. New Zealand's Health Ministry also plans to monitor the drug distribution in the country. US Food and Drug Administration had also warned about the use of ADHD drugs and its side effects such as suicidal thoughts and violent behavior.
Pyne in an interview to the Weekend Australian newspaper said that doctors should not prescribe Ritalin or any other ADHD medication to children which are found to be inappropriate by the drug maker. Novartis said the safety and efficacy of Ritalin for under-sixes had not been established and there is no data available on the side effects following long term use. Hence doctors should follow the instructions of pharmaceutical companies.
Professor John Werry said that he had prescribed the drug to 20 patients who are under six. He said prescribing Ritalin and other ADHD drugs to preschoolers was a growing trend and it becomes very stressful to have a two year old with severe ADHD. He also said that they are given family support and respite through the likes of Special Education Services along with medications. Hence he considers the Australian inquiry was a ridiculous and a hysterical reaction. Health Ministry child and youth health chief adviser Pat Tuohy said that there were strict controls on Ritalin prescriptions for under-fives.