ADHD Drugs

Concerta, Ritalin and other drugs widely used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may lead to the possibility of hallucinations and suicidal tendencies in patients taking the drugs.

While such reports of serious psychiatric problems are rare and there is no proof they were caused by the drugs, the FDA has said a fuller discussion of the reports should be on drug labels. Current labeling discusses psychiatric problems that could be associated the drugs, but agency officials said they believe the labels do not clearly spell out the frequency and types of specific psychiatric problems.

The FDA made its decision to rewrite labels after reviewing 135 adverse event reports from Dec. 4, 2003, to Jan. 4, 2005, involving Johnson & Johnson's Concerta, a long-acting form of methylphenidate, the generic name for Ritalin, made by Novartis AG.

The Concerta review was mandated by law in drugs that are studied for use in children. Almost eight million prescriptions were written for Concerta during the same time period covered by the FDA review.

The FDA brought the review of Concerta to its pediatric advisory panel for advice on how best to communicate its concerns to the public. The agency chose not to focus on another category of ADHD drugs that includes Shire Pharmaceuticals PLC's Adderall, which was ordered off the market earlier this year in Canada after reports of 20 sudden deaths in patients, including 12 strokes.

The FDA has also been reviewing ADHD drugs for links to more serious problems like stroke. The drug labels warn of increased blood pressure and suggest the drugs can make any underlying psychiatric disorders worse, but patients may not be fully informed of the risks.

The most concerning serious side effects have been psychiatric events in young people. These have ranged from hallucinations, to suicidal thoughts, and even suicide attempts.

If you or a loved one has taken any ADHD drugs and suffered serious side effects, contact us today to find out if you might have a personal injury claim.

  • Paxil (paroxetine) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) type antidepressant approved for prescription use in the United States.

    Studies have indicated that SSRI antidepressants can increase the risk of suicidal thinking in young adults. These findings have also shown that that risk appears to decline in older adults.

    The drugs carry a "black-box" warning about the increased risk in suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents. Doctors and caregivers are advised to carefully watch for any changes in patient behavior after starting treatment with an antidepressant.

  • Permax (pergolide) is a drug that was formerly prescribed in the United States to treat Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's in associated with low dopamine levels in the brain and this medication has some of the same effects on the body as dopamine.

    The risk of heart valve damage attributed to Permax was shown to be much higher than was originally thought. One study showed that roughly one-fourth of Parkinson's patients taking pergolide had moderate to severe heart valve problems. Another study found that users of either drug were five to seven times more likely to have leaky heart valves than those on other types of Parkinson's medications.

  • Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is a drug formerly used and prescribed in the United States as a stimulant, decongestant, and anorectic. It was found primarily in over-the-counter cold medicines and appetite suppressants.

    However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised companies to discontinue use of this ingredient in products due to serious health concerns. It has now been deemed not generally safe and effective. Before these changes occurred, PPA was an ingredient in dozens of over-the counter cough and cold remedies, and well as the key ingredient in all major appetite suppressants on the market at that time.

  • Plavix (clopidogrel) is an anti-clotting drug that is prescribed for coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and to prevent myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke. It is sometimes known colloquially as 'superaspirin' and it works by inhibiting the formation of blood clots.

  • Pradaxa (dabigatran) is a drug used daily by patients with an abnormal heart beat to prevent stroke and blood clotting.

    Unfortunately, Pradaxa has been linked with numerous problems, including serious and potentially fatal bleeding. Pradaxa is also not recommended for patients with who suffer from active bleeding or have mechanical heart valves. Moreover, the Mayo Clinic has provided warnings about the lack of studies conducted regarding Pradaxa’s potential effect when used by children, elderly patients, or pregnant women.

  • Prempro is a hormone-replacement therapy consisting of a combination of conjugated estrogens (estrogen-progestin) that is prescribed to menopausal and premenopausal women to help treat their symptoms, including hot flashes.

    Though many women have used this medication with great success, some claim that Prempro was a major contributing factor to their development of breast cancer. One study, performed by the Women's Health Initiative, did show that woman who took this drug were at a higher risk of breast cancer, stroke, and coronary heart disease.

  • Risperdal (risperidone) is an antipsychotic drug prescribed by doctors for the treatment of certain mental and mood disorders. This powerful drug is approved for patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability associated with autism.

  • Seroquel (quetiapine) is an antipsychotic drug approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. However, doctors, at the aggressive urging of AstraZeneca, have also been known to prescirbe this medication for off-label uses.

    It was thought that Seroquel would be useful in the treatment of delusions and aggression in Alzheimer's patients. However, the potential benefits do not outweigh the risks that have been seen in these populations. When prescribed to elderly patients in these circumstances, Seroquel has been shown to lead to major complications and even sudden death.

  • Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is an oral antiviral medication that can be used to prevent or treat influenza ('the flu') after exposure. It is recommended primarily for people at high risk of developing complications from the flu.

    However, some patients, especially children, have exhibited unexpected side effects while taking Tamiflu. These symptoms vary, but all fall under the category of bizarre behavior, including multiple deaths from falls. It is unclear how Tamiflu may have factored into these results, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urges that anyone taking Tamiflu should be monitored carefully.

  • Tequin (gatifloxacin) is a fourth-generation antibiotic that was formerly prescribed in the US for oral use in the treatment of respiratory tract infections. It belongs to a class of popular broad-spectrum antibiotics called fluoroquinolones.

    This drug has been used to treat many different bacterial infections, including pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and certain sexually transmitted diseases. Other antibiotics in the same class include ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin.