Call for ADHD drug answers

FAMILIES with children with ADHD today demanded answers over the future of a drug which they say has turned their lives around.Since attention deficit hyperactivity drug Strattera was reclassified by the Suffolk Drug and Therapeutic Committee and upgraded to a "red" classification, families have expressed fears about restricted access to the drug.

FAMILIES with children with ADHD today demanded answers over the future of a drug which they say has turned their lives around.

Since attention deficit hyperactivity drug Strattera was reclassified by the Suffolk Drug and Therapeutic Committee and upgraded to a "red" classification, families have expressed fears about restricted access to the drug.

Members of ADHD in Suffolk today raised questions over its reclassification, which took power away from GPs to prescribe it, and called for more consultation with patients before future changes to drug classifications.

The group's executive director Linda Shepherd said: "It's an absolute mess.


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"If you're going to be making decisions about the future of youngsters' lives you're making a mistake if you don't contact us.

"We've had several calls from parents who are worried and are wondering how it's going to affect them. That's why we want some answers."

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Strattera (Atomoxetine) is used to increase the ability to pay attention and decrease impulsiveness and hyperactivity in children and adults with ADHD by increasing the levels of norepinephrine, a natural substance in the brain.

The decision to upgrade the drug from a green to red classification means in can now only be prescribed by clinicians instead of GPs.

But a spokeswoman for the three east Suffolk primary care trusts gave assurances that the public's views on drug classification were taken into account by the drug and therapeutic committee.

"The drug and therapeutic committee receive feedback from many, many consultants," she said.

"People can also comment through their GP or consultant."

One of the people concerned about Strattera's reclassification is Janet Knight, whose 17-year-old son Matthew has been prescribed the drug since July.

Not only is she concerned about the changes to the way it is prescribed but she says Matthew was left without a consultant to prescribe the drug after he was told he would no longer be treated as an adolescent.

She has appealed to Health Secretary John Reid to step in.

"I've been cast adrift with no paddle, no boat," Mrs Knight said.

"It's not a position that families should have to face. They're playing with people's lives."

Suffolk Mental Health Partnership moved to reassure ADHD sufferers using Strattera that their treatment would continue, but it admitted protocols in place to ensure patients who are no longer suitable for treatment as adolescents move smoothly into adult care did not work for Matthew Knight.

"Our protocols call for a process of transition from child and adolescent to adult services," he said.

"It is not a normal situation because we suddenly had Strattera deregulated. In other situations GPs would be quite happy in providing a new ADHD prescription."

Are you affected by the changes to Strattera's classification? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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