ADHD guidelines pulled after payment scandal

Written by Changing Habits

November 23, 2009

CONTROVERSIAL guidelines on ADHD have been pulled by the Federal Government following claims drug company payments to a doctor have tainted the work.

The Government has been forced to stop the release of the draft guidelines and may have to rewrite them following the embarrassing scandal.

A cloud has been cast over the draft’s validity after one of the psychiatrists, whose research into anti-psychotic drugs helped form the guidelines, was accused of failing to reveal payments from drug companies.

US-based child psychiatrist Dr Joseph Biederman is under investigation in America by authorities who have uncovered $1.6 million in payments.

The US Congress investigation has found Dr Biederman failed to declare where all the money came from and has possibly breached federal and Harvard University research laws.

Australian authorities have been forced to admit the embarrassing discovery that has now put the guidelines – which recommend medication such as Ritalin as the best form of treatment for ADHD and are designed to help parents and doctors – in jeopardy.

Child welfare and ADHD experts want the guidelines rewritten entirely.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the Government to go back to the drawing board,” University of South Australia education faculty lecturer Dr Brenton Prosser said.

“I advise parents to use medication as a last resort. Pills don’t acquire skills. Medicines don’t address social skills.”

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians is in charge of devising the guidelines, following a Government review in 2007.

“The College was not aware of the US investigation when drafting the guidelines,” a spokesman said.

“When (it) is completed the college and National Health Medical Research Council will determine the future status of the guidelines.”

It was revealed last year that seven of the 10 people in charge of setting the guidelines had financial links to firms who make ADHD drugs.

Source: Kate Sikora, The Daily Telegraph, November 23 2009

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