Drug restriction fears of patients

ADHD sufferers have today raised fears that restrictions to the way they receive prescriptions for vital medication could lead to a worsening of their conditions.

ADHD sufferers have today raised fears that restrictions to the way they receive prescriptions for vital medication could lead to a worsening of their conditions.

A decision by experts on the Suffolk Drug and Therapeutic Committee to give attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug Strattera a "red" classification, taking the power to prescribe the drug away from GPs, has prompted a furious response from parents of sufferers.

Christine Hurrell's 16-year-old son Robert has been taking Strattera since July and the drug has produced better results than any other ADHD medication the family has tried.

Mrs Hurrell said: "We've been through all the others. Ritalin didn't really work. Concerta didn't work.

"Robert's holding down a job now. He's an apprentice plumber and he loves his job.

"He wouldn't be able to concentrate without it (Strattera)."

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Mrs Hurrell, of Bucklesham Road, Kirton, first discovered Strattera had been taken off the list of drugs GPs could prescribe when she went to her local surgery to get a repeat prescription.

She said: "They said they'd been told by the Primary Care Trust that they weren't to do it anymore.

"The GP at the surgery gave me a prescription for this month so I've got enough to last until Christmas and after that I don't know."

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.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the three east Suffolk primary care trusts, said the decision by the Suffolk Drug and Therapeutic Committee to upgrade Strattera from a green to red classification was aimed at ensuring patient safety.

She said: "Strattera is a very new drug.

"The committee suggested because of patients' interests it needed to be prescribed by hospital specialists, not GPs.

"Because it's a new drug you have to select the patients very carefully and you have to monitor it."

Instead of visiting their GPs for a repeat prescription patients will now visit their lead clinician, either a hospital or mental health specialist.

Ms Rowsell said: "Clearly there would be an element of inconvenience to patients but what we would try to do is limit that inconvenience."

But the decision has angered Janet Knight, whose son Matthew, 17, had also seen marked improvements in his behaviour in the three months he has been using Strattera.

She said: "After January I don't know where I get the prescriptions from.

"I'm absolutely gobsmacked at the way they've done it. His consultant knew nothing about it."

Mrs Knight, of Wesel Avenue, Felixstowe, is worried that if Matthew changes his medication he may not be able to continue working as an apprentice engineer at the Port of Felixstowe.

"He's not very happy at all. He does not want to lose his job, his job means everything to him," she said.

Weblink: www.suffolkcoastal-pct.nhs.uk

N Are you affected by the changes to the way Strattera is prescribed? 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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