A new, orange-flavoured, orally disintegrating pill to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has just hit the American market after being approved by the Food and Drug Administration in January 2016. It’s called Adzenys and looks and tastes like candy. Now parents, educators and medical experts are weighing up the risks versus the benefits.
A study published in 2015 in the journal Paediatrics revealed that 50% of polled parents said that traditionally, it was a nightmare trying to get their children to actually swallow a pill.
Adzenys may change this.
The American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has publicly stated that 11% of American children in the US aged between four and 17 years had been diagnosed with ADHD by 2011.
In clinical studies, Adzenys was well tolerated by test subjects. It is intended to be effective in treating hyperactivity and impulse control in patients with ADHD.
Manufacturer Neos Therapeutics, based in Texas, has stated that “adding flavour to bitter and unpleasant taste in medicines is a common practice in the medical world, a tactic that can increase patient likelihood to stay on treatment”. Furthermore, says the company, Adzenys is a “slow-release” medication, which means that it may not become a favourite of drug abusers.
Nicolas Rasmussen, a historian and author of the book On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine (New York Press, 2009) has proclaimed that there are fundamental problems with turning a “neurotoxic and addictive drug into candy”.
Rasmussen may have a point. In many countries, the drug most familiarly prescribed to ADHD – Ritalin – is commonly used by high school and college students for a variety of dangerous purposes.
Ritalin contains methylphenidate – a stimulant that provides a “rush” similar to that experienced by cocaine users.
In larger doses, Ritalin can lead to convulsions, headaches and hallucinations. The powerful amphetamine-like substance can even lead to heart failure and death.
Category: Spring 2016