Large increase in stimulant use for ADHD in Australia: new study

Parliament house flag post

Large increase in stimulant use for ADHD in Australia: new study

Posted 27/01/2011 by Luke Buckmaster

White tablet with CG 202 imprinted on itA new study has shown that between 2002 and 2009, dispensing of stimulant medication in Australia—the majority of which is thought to be for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—has increased considerably.

The study, Australian national trends in stimulant dispensing: 2002-09, published in the Early Online edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (ANZJP), used data from the Department of Health and Ageing to report trends in dispensed stimulant prescriptions between 2002 and 2009 by gender and age.

The drugs examined were dexamphetamine, methylphenidate (brand names: Ritalin and Concerta) and modafinil (brand name: Modavigil).

According to the study, between 2002 and 2009:

  • there was an 87 per cent increase in stimulant dispensing in Australia
  • dexamphetamine remained the most commonly dispensed stimulant, though prescriptions fell by 13 per cent
  • the increase in stimulant dispensing was attributable to a 300 per cent increase in dispensed methylphenidate following inclusion of the short-acting preparations on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 2005 and longer acting preparations from 2007
  • dispensing of stimulant prescriptions peaked at 10-14 years of age
  • the use of stimulants was approximately five times greater in men than in women, although the Australian rate of prevalence of ADHD is 2.45 times greater in men than women.
 In seeking to explain the 300 per cent increase in methylphenidate dispensing, the authors note that:

 Although the most likely explanation for the increase ... was government subsidy [through the PBS], increased prescribing for stimulants has also been reported in North America and Europe. We conjecture that this may be due to a number of factors including studies showing the effectiveness of stimulants for ADHD treatment, increased public awareness of ADHD, societal changes (for example children living in smaller housing, greater expectations of children to remain at school) and the influence of marketing by pharmaceutical companies.
The authors also hypothesise that the peaking of stimulant prescription at 10-14 years of age reflects changing expectations placed upon children at school, arguing that the increase coincided with ‘increasing cognitive demands in the school environment and increasing expectations from parents, teachers and perhaps the students themselves’.

A point worth highlighting is that increases in dispensing of stimulants have tended to be greater in some Australian jurisdictions than in others. As the authors note, studies have reported increased use of stimulants in children and in adults in Western Australia (WA) and New South Wales (NSW), while other states such as South Australia have shown no consistent change.

In a 2004 Parliamentary Library study, I examined the differences between Federal electorates in dispensing of dexamphetamine through the PBS and found considerable variation both across and within jurisdictions, with WA electorates accounting for the top 14 electorates for prescription of ADHD medication in Australia. I also found that the number of PBS dexamphetamine prescriptions in Western Australia in 2003 was around three and a half times higher per 1000 population than the Australian average and more than 12 times higher than the jurisdiction with the lowest number of prescriptions, the Northern Territory.

The ANZJP study does not provide jurisdictional comparisons. However, such comparisons can be made using PBS data available from the Medicare Australia website. The graph below shows all PBS prescriptions for stimulants (dexamphetamine, methylphenidate and modafinil) between 2002-03 and 2009-2010.
 
  PBS prescriptions dispensed for stimulant medication, states and territories, 2002-03 to 2009-10




Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print

FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament


Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice

Archive

Syndication

Tagcloud

refugees asylum immigration Australian foreign policy Parliament climate change elections women social security Indigenous Australians Australian Bureau of Statistics Employment Sport illicit drugs people trafficking taxation Medicare welfare reform Australian Defence Force higher education welfare policy United Nations health financing Asia income management Middle East criminal law disability Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget gambling school education forced labour aid statistics Australian Electoral Commission WADA emissions trading dental health Australia in the Asian Century steroids detention Private health insurance OECD ASADA labour force transport Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Industrial Relations people smuggling National Disability Insurance Scheme Australian Crime Commission slavery Senate election results Papua New Guinea Australian Public Service constitution International Women's Day corruption Afghanistan Fair Work Act child protection debt federal election 2013 parliamentary procedure poker machines ALP New Zealand Newstart Parenting Payment 43rd Parliament political parties Census High Court skilled migration voting Federal Court terrorist groups Higher Education Loan Program HECS youth paid parental leave Aviation environment foreign debt gross debt net debt defence capability customs doping health crime health risks multiculturalism aged care Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery sea farers Special Rapporteur leadership United Kingdom UK Parliament Electoral reform politics banking firearms public policy violence against women domestic violence mental health China ADRV terrorism social media pensions welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation governance public service reform Carbon Pricing Mechanism carbon tax mining military history employer employee fishing by-election European Union same sex relationships international relations coal seam gas family assistance planning United Nations Security Council Australian economy food vocational education and training Drugs health reform Indonesia children codes of conduct terrorist financing health system money laundering asylum seekers early childhood education Canada Population Financial sector national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity science research and development Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse federal state relations World Trade Organization Australia accountability housing affordability bulk billing water renewable energy children's health health policy Governor-General US economy export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation expertise Senators and Members climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry food labelling Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government local government consumer laws PISA royal commission US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition Parliamentary remuneration Australia Greens servitude Trafficking Protocol energy forced marriage rural and regional Northern Territory Emergency Response ministries social citizenship human rights High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories workers Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery transparency corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation standards NATO Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly public health smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine regional unemployment asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency productivity human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies trade unions same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders public housing prime ministers election timetable sitting days First speech defence budget submarines Somalia GDP forestry world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission regulation limitation period universities Ireland cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders animal health live exports welfare systems infant mortality middle class welfare honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Constitutional reform referendum Rent Assistance competition policy pharmaceutical benefits scheme obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant homelessness regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Youth Allowance Members suspension citizen engagement policymaking federal election 2010 workplace health and safety Trafficking in Persons Report marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament alcohol Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act entitlements political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing Hung Parliament political education social inclusion Social Inclusion Board maritime early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin Iran sanctions Norway hospitals republic President Barack Obama Presidential visits

Show all
Show less
Back to top