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Home   Kent   News   Article

Kent and Medway spend most on drugs for ADHD with 63,000 prescriptions for patients with hyperactivity disorder

03 September 2013

A doctor issuing a prescription

A doctor issuing a prescription. Library image.

More money is spent in Kent and Medway on drugs for ADHD than anywhere else in England, figures reveal.

New statistics show more than 63,000 prescriptions for drugs used to treat the hyperactivity disorder were given by doctors in the county last year.

The total cost of dishing out the drugs - such as Ritalin and Concerta - was just over £3.5million.

It comes just weeks after the Care Quality Commission warned health workers to "carefully monitor" their use because they have the potential to be "abused" as figures revealed a national 50% increase in prescriptions over six years.

NHS figures show £1.7m was spent by Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust in 2012 on 24,197 drugs for ADHD - the highest in England.

West Kent was fifth in the national table, spending £1.2m on 24,929 prescriptions. And NHS Medway's 14,229 bill for the drugs was £657,000.

The figures have sparked concern from some Kent doctors that drugs are being used to deal with behavioural conditions before therapy is considered.

Dr Julian Spinks, vice chairman of the Kent Local Medical Committee, said he was surprised Kent had come top of the list.

The Strood GP said he had seen more children coming forward with attention disorder conditions that needed medical treatment, but believed there are other options.

Dr Spinks said: "My concern is the number of children diagnosed with this condition appears to be rising year on year.

"It does leave me worried that maybe we are using medication in some circumstances where behaviour therapy or support for families might be a better option to deal with it.

"These figures sound like an enormous amount of money, but in reality it's a small proportion of the total spend on medication.

"We are still well short of America where they have up to five times of children diagnosed.

"Maybe we need to look very carefully at how we decide whether a child has ADHD and more importantly whether they need medical treatment with these drugs."

Dr Julian Spinks at his Strood surgery

Dr Julian Spinks at his Strood surgery

He added: "These are incredibly useful drugs. If you have a child with moderate or severe ADHD they can really change their lives and their families.

"However, I think we need to look very carefully when we look at children at the mild end of the spectrum and whether we are using the drugs as an easy solution rather than using more complex intervention like behaviour treatment and supporting families in school which might be better for the children."

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The Citizens Commission on Human Rights obtained the figures from a Freedom of Information request from the NHS Business Services Authority.

Spokesman Brian Daniels said: "In real medicine, a patient can ask to see the results of a medical test or an exploratory examination.

"In psychiatry, there are no tests and no results to confirm a so-called chemical imbalance of the brain. It is a psychiatric crystal ball.

"There will be people who say the drugs work, but all the drugs are doing is producing nullifying effects that are hailed as demonstrably effective.

"All that has happened is the person has been drugged, and is exhibiting the effects of a dangerous mind-altering foreign substance in his or her body."

The Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment.

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