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Ritalin is not safe for kids. Stop the six-fold increase in UK prescriptions

This petition had 74 supporters

There is no dispute that for some, ADHD is a genuine biological disorder with genetic roots for which drug treatment is entirely necessary and valuable. But ADHD diagnoses have risen far quicker than biological factors could ever account for, and the number of Ritalin prescriptions in the UK has increased sixfold between 1999 and 2014 to almost a million.

Ritalin is a drug that substantially raises heart rate and blood pressure, stunts growth for long after treatment ceases, increases risk for psychotic and manic symptoms and perhaps even depression, and has to be labelled with the FDA’s strongest “black box” warning upon prescription. It is a Schedule II drug in the US and a Class B in the UK, and its effects when snorted are highly similar to cocaine, with a similarly high potential for psychological and physical dependency.

Kids are diagnosed at an average age of seven in the US, and there is hard evidence to suggest that brain pathology associated with ADHD may in fact be caused by the medication and not the disorder itself. Ritalin should only be prescribed if absolutely necessary - so why the drastic increase? For Big Pharma, Ritalin is big business - in the US, sales of ADHD drugs more than doubled between 2007 and 2012, from $4 billion to $9 billion. Pharmaceuticals giants have used their financial power to influence diagnosis criteria and pay influential psychiatrists, including the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, for their support to boost sales of drugs like Ritalin. 

While medication rates are most concerning in the US, pharmaceutical companies have already started expanding to international markets in Western Europe, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan, and academics are predicting that little can be done to combat these drug pushing forces. The drastic increase in Ritalin prescriptions in the last 15 years shows that it's already happening in the UK.

We call on David Cameron MP, hopefully with the support of Caroline Lucas MP, to review the drastic rise in ADHD medication and do all it can to prevent corporate pharmaceutical interests from harming our children's health.

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