NIMH director blames HMOs for ADHD-Ritalin problem_NYPost

Subject: NIMH director blames HMOs for ADHD-Ritalin problem_NYPost

Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2002 18:08:19 -0400

FYI The NY Post reports that there were heated exchanges at a Congressional hearing convened by the House Government Reform Committee overdiagnosing and overmedicating of children. Dr. Richard K. Nakamura, head of the National Institute of Mental Health, acknowledged the problem, but shifted the blame to managed care companies rather than the doctors who write the prescriptions: “We are concerned about improper diagnoses of ADHD. “There’s a possibility that physicians are told, ‘You have X amount of time to diagnose XYZ’ by their managed-care organization. I believe physicians are being given too little time and money to properly diagnose.”

E. Clarke Ross, the head of CHADD ( Children and Adults with ADHD)–an advocacy organization that promotes ADHD and the use of Ritalin, was “blasted” by Rep. Dan Burton, the committee chairman. Burton accused CHADD of being in the pocket of drug lobbyists. The Post reports: “Nearly shouting, he charged Ross with creating an “appearance” that his organization was compromised, since it received money from drug companies.

Ross acknowledged (to The Post) that schools should not pressure parents to put their children on Ritalin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ http://www.nypost.com/cgi-bin/printfriendly.pl THE NEW YORK POST RITALIN PUSHER CHANGES HIS TUNE ON SCHOOLS

By DOUGLAS MONTERO ———————————————————————— ——–

September 27, 2002 — WASHINGTON.

A NATIONAL parent group that has been accused of encouraging the widespread use of Ritalin on behalf of the manufacturer wants educators to stop pressuring parents to drug their kids.

That startling admission comes as the acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health said there is a concern that many doctors across the nation are misdiagnosing kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – which is turning hospitals and clinics into pill mills.

E. Clarke Ross, who heads the 20,000-member group Children and Adults with ADHD, made the admission just before he testified yesterday before Congress – which is investigating the out-of-control practice of schools medicating children.

“Their job is to teach and [to] observe barriers to learning, not practice medicine,” Ross said.

Ross, who was called before the House Government Reform Committee to explain why Ritalin is appropriate for kids, also said the drug is overprescribed in some areas but underprescribed in others.

Ross was blasted on Capitol Hill by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), the committee chairman, who accused the medical professor of being in the pocket of drug lobbyists.

Nearly shouting, he charged Ross with creating an “appearance” that his organization was compromised, since it received money from drug companies.

Burton later told The Post he would like to see restrictions on how health associations are funded.

But Ross denied allegations by advocates and several government agencies that he’s lobbying for Ritalin use – despite the estimated $1 million his organization has received over the past 10 years by Ritalin’s manufacturer.

Burton said 6 million kids in America are taking Ritalin, while officials with the National Institutes of Health say the number is only 2 million.

Regardless, the damage has already been done.

Dr. Richard K. Nakamura, head of the National Institute of Mental Health, said, “We are concerned about improper diagnoses of ADHD.

“There’s a possibility that physicians are told, ‘You have X amount of time to diagnose XYZ’ by their managed-care organization. I believe physicians are being given too little time and money to properly diagnose.”

He said a proper diagnosis comes with extensive tests to determine whether a child-behavior or learning disability may be attributed to other problems, such as autism or dyslexia.

A number of New York parents have complained that many doctors referred to them by the schools usually spend a mere 45 minutes with their kids before prescribing Ritalin.

The doctors usually make their diagnoses by looking over a school evaluation report on the child’s behavior, which many say is subjective and leads to abuse.

The complaints from parents last month forced both the state and city Education departments to issue memos reminding educators that banning a kid from school because the parents refuse to medicate is a violation of the rules.

Yet Jill Chafeitz, the executive director of Advocates for Children, said Wednesday her office is still receiving complaints from parents.

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