ADHD Drug and Suicide Risk – Children Beware

Once again ADHD drug treatments are in the spotlight.

Australia’s drug regulator has warned doctors to carefully weigh up the risk of suicidal thoughts in children taking a type of ADHD medication, after reports of two children trying to take their own lives and a nine-year-old boy taking his own life.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said in a medicines safety update last week that it had received 74 reports of psychiatric disorders and 28 reports of suicidal thoughts in children and teenagers, some as young as seven, after taking Strattera.

In 2005, a “black box” warning was added to Strattera packaging in the United States.

The warning, which remains in use today, advises users of the drug of the risk of “suicidal thoughts and actions in children and teenagers,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website.

In America over 13,800 serious adverse events associated with Strattera were reported to the FDA from November 1997 to December 2012.

The most commonly reported adverse event was drowsiness.

However, “abnormal behaviour” and “feeling abnormal” were among the top ten reported adverse events.

In 2008, it was reported that 55 children and adolescents have died under Strattera treatment and 31 of them committed suicide.


ADHD Drugs in Australia

Known generically as atomoxetine, Strattera was approved in Australia in 2004 and added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme three years later.

It is a non-stimulant drug, unlike other attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medications like Ritalin.


Commonwealth Health Department figures show about 6000 Australian children were on Strattera in 2011.

The graph above shows medication use has continued on a slow but steady march.

NSW is currently Australia’s ADHD drug capital with almost half of all ADHD prescriptions being written in the state.


Emed Comment

Kids thinking about suicide and some of them actually going through with it is a huge cause of concern.

Unfortunately there are often no warning signs and we don’t know about these thoughts until its too late.

As with all prescription medication, make sure that you read the Consumer Medicines Information Leaflet which you will find enclosed with all medications. Here you will find all possible side effects from minor to major.

If you are looking for different treatment options for your child, speak to your Emed Practitioner today. As ADHD is a complex condition, we can tailor a treatment program, which focuses on diet, lifestyle and vitamin and nutrient supplements if needed.

Getting kids and teens to talk to someone about their troubles can sometimes be hard. Kids Helpline offers 24 hour a day access to speak to someone and can be reached on 1800 55 1800.

For more information on ADHD and the effectiveness of natural therapy on this condition, please take time to browse the articles on the ‘further reading’ section below.




Further Reading: