Reading, Writing and Ritalin!

Various Articles From The Media

Ritalin Causes Cancer!

Government scientists have uncovered a sign that the widely used children's drug Ritalin may cause cancer in mice. But in their infinite wisdom, the FDA decided that it's no big deal and this medicine should be prescribed to children anyway.

"We felt physicians and parents should know this and have a right to know this (that Ritalin causes cancer)," gushes Dr. Murray Lumpkin, the Food and Drug Administration's deputy drug director. Thank you, Mr. Lumpkin. When will you decide that the public has a "have a right to know" that Ritalin causes cancer in humans. In twenty years or fifty years, or ever? Ritalin is widely prescribed to treat the spindrome called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, a neurological condition that affects 2.5 million children. It is more common in boys than girls and sometimes persists to adulthood. Ritalin is the brand name of the brain stimulant methylphenidate. About 6 millions prescriptions for the generic and brand name versions were filled in 1993, the latest data available. Mice were fed doses of methylphenidate for two years. Four of the male mice who got the highest doses developed cancerous liver tumors, called hepatoblastomas, when statistically no more than one of the extremely rare tumors should have formed, the study found. The laboratory mice also had somewhat elevated levels of a non-cancerous liver tumor called hepatocellular adenoma.

The drug manufacturer, Ciba Geigy Corp. mailed letters in January, 1996 to 100,000 doctors who prescribe methylphenidate. Needless to say, Ciba Geigy downplayed the cancer risk to protect their bottom line. A scientist was quoted off the record as stating, "Ciba Geigy's history of distributing hazardous medicine is terrible. They would do anything and have done anything to protect their profits, including promoting well-known toxic drugs to adults and children." Again, Established Medicine have shown that ethics takes a poor back seat to profits."

More dangerous than originally thought!

FDA has taken steps to alert the health care community that an animal study of Ritalin, a stimulant widely prescribed for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has produced a "weak signal" that the drug may have the potential to cause cancer.

The agency continues to regard Ritalin as a safe and effective drug. However, the signal indicates a potential risk that needs to be considered and further studied because of the increasing and often long-term use of Ritalin in children. In the last five years, the use of the product has increased approximately two-to-threefold.

The agency's actions are based on findings in a draft report on two two-year studies by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) on cancer-causing potential of Ritalin in mice and rats. The study in rats revealed no cancer-causing activity. The findings in mice included increased rates of a non-cancerous liver tumor (hepatocellular adenomas) and, in males only, the occurrence of malignant liver tumor (hepatoblastomas).

FDA considers the results of the studies a signal of a weak cancer-causing potential for this drug, based on the following:

-- The positive findings were seen in one species of rodent (the mouse) and in only one organ, the liver, which is known to be particularly likely to develop tumors to a wide variety of stimuli.

-- The increased rates were seen primarily in non-malignant tumors. - There was no increase in mortality associated with the tumors.

The agency also noted that animal studies do not necessarily reflect human findings. The kind of liver tumor found in mice is extremely rare in people, and its occurrence in recent years has not increased despite the increased use of Ritalin.

The agency has asked the drug's sponsor to include the positive findings in the labeling for Ritalin, and to alert prescribers to the "weak signal" by sending them a Dear Doctor letter. FDA also plans to initiate additional follow up studies, including both animal tests and epidemiological studies in humans using Ritalin. Ritalin is manufactured by Ciba Pharmaceuticals, division of Ciba-Geigy Corp. in Summit, N.J.

United Nations Warning on Ritalin

UN- The United Nation's International Narcotics Council Board has warned that US doctors are over-prescribing Ritalin (methylphenidate) to treat hyperactive children. The US consumes 90 percent of the world's Ritalin supply. In 1995, US doctors prescribed 350 million doses of the drug to as many as 5 percent of US school kids (up 50 percent over the previous year). The UN has asked the US to investigate the pro-Ritalin activities of an unnamed "parents association" financially backed by Ciba, Ritalin's manufacturer.

Ritalin 'Cocaine Properties' May Lead To Later Drug Abuse From New Scientist

LONDON (Reuters) - A medicine regularly taken by millions of hyperactive children has similar properties to cocaine and could encourage drug abuse in later life, New Scientist magazine said Thursday.   Methylphenidate, better known as Ritalin, is the leading treatment for a neurological condition known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which prevents children from concentrating on a task for more than a few seconds.

New Scientist said growing concerns over the long-time effects of the drug, a stimulant that works by making the neurotransmitter dopamine more available in the brain, have put it on the agenda for the U.S. National Institutes of Health conference on ADHD, scheduled for November.   A 1995 study by Nora Volkow, director of nuclear medicine at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, found that Ritalin's properties were very similar to cocaine. Volkow said there was no evidence of a link between Ritalin and cocaine abuse but added 10 to 30 percent of cocaine addicts take it because they have ADHD. "When we give them Ritalin, the cocaine problem is resolved,'' she told New Scientist.

Another study by Susan Schenk, a psychopharmacologist at Texas A&M University in College Station, and Nadine Lambert, a developmental psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, followed the progress of 5,000 children with ADHD from adolescence into early adulthood.   In a paper to be published in October, Lambert argues that children on Ritalin are more likely to smoke as adults. Other data presented by Schenk suggested that they are three times more likely to develop a taste for cocaine.

Other experts were sceptical. Alan Zametkin, a psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health near Washington D.C., said he believed stimulants actually reduce the risk of drug addiction. "My theory is that stimulant use allows kids to be more successful and therefore they develop fewer antisocial behaviors,'' Zametkin told New Scientist. "So it's less likely they'll become drug addicts."

More on ADD & ADHD