Adult ADHD marketing reaches the UK

At the end of June I wrote about Dr Daniel Carlat and a piece of his about Shire Pharmaceuticals and its attempt to open a market to treat Adult ADHD. Shire Pharmaceuticals is currently THE name in ADHD medications, having propelled Adderall and Adderall XR into market leader status among psychostimulants. Now with two new versions of stimulants hitting the market (Daytrana methylphenidate patch, and Vyvanse, the “pro-drug” stimulant), Shire’s marketing machinery is kicking it up another notch.

Shire’s messages go something like this: “1) Adult ADHD is underdiagnosed; 2) Adult ADHD is a really bad disease, with lots of terrible consequences; 3) A lot of the patients that present with depression actually have ADHD if you dig deeply enough; 4) Stimulants don’t lead to substance abuse, in fact they prevent future development of substance abuse; 5) Finally, and most importantly, psychostimulants are incredibly effective for Adult ADHD, so prescribe lots of them…”

This was all going on in the USA – but just this morning on Radio 4 heard a piece from the BBC health correspondent, Adam Brimelow: Adult hyperactivity care ‘fails’

The NHS is failing people with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, psychiatrists have said. There are only a few clinics across the UK that treat the condition – also known as ADHD – which affects up to 4% of adults.

Symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder include inattention and impulsiveness.

Leading psychiatrists have called on the government to give the condition a higher priority.

It is only in the last few years that strong evidence has emerged about the extent of ADHD in the adult population.

It is thought up to 8% of children may be affected, and research suggests that half or more may have symptoms past adolescence into their twenties, thirties or even forties.

Yet the condition is barely recognised by the health service beyond 18 years of age.

Professor Anthony Hale, professor of psychiatry at the University of Kent, said patients are being failed by the system.

“There are huge numbers of people across the country who are on waiting lists to see adult psychiatrists who don’t have the expertise to deal with them.

“The 4% of the adult population figure is very real.

The questions I’d like to ask are:

• how did this ‘story’ break and where did it come from?

• who put it in front of the BBC and other news organisations?

• how did these “leading psychiatrists” get together to call on the government to give the condition a higher priority?

I’ve got to say the cynic in me thinks it’s the start of a classic drug company medicalisation and marketing campaign.

Is this ‘news’ story anything to do with Shire Pharmaceuticals, I wonder?

Watch this space.


6 Responses to “Adult ADHD marketing reaches the UK”

  1. Matthew Holford Says:

    “…patients are being failed by the system.”

    Yes, oddly enough, I’d come to that conclusion, myself. Although perhaps in a slightly different context.


  2. Greg Twyford Says:

    I came to precisely the same conclusions. Having worked for some time with pharmaceutical companies developing strategies for promoting ADHD drugs I recognise much of the message content of this ‘news’ story. Why start the article with the phrase ‘leading psychiatrists’ then go on to refer to a single psychiatrist.

  3. truthman30 Says:

    What an absolute con!

    Adult ADHD?..

    It simply doesn’s exist …

    Leading psychiatrists have called on the government to give the condition a higher priority.

    It is only in the last few years that strong evidence has emerged about the extent of ADHD in the adult population.

    It is only in the last few years that Adult ADHD has “emerged” because the pharmas are eager to tap into a new markets for their bogus drugs …

    And of course psychiatry would be all too willing to go along for the ride…

    How could all those psychiatrists salvating at the thoughts of prestige and money resist the backing of pharma funding …?

    Well… If they had “ethics” they would…
    But since when were ethics part of psychiatrys agenda?…

  4. Matthew Holford Says:

    It’s embarassing, isn’t it? It’s becoming increasingly evident that there are serious failings in the system – at all levels.

    The upshot is that these failings permit patient’s suffering to go completely ignored. Side effects of shite drugs are blamed on the patients’ “condition”. Yellow cards are quietly ignored. Patients are left to the tender mercy of apathetic quacks and potentially uncaring carers and relatives (leastways, I doubt that anybody checks whether or not a relative or carer possesses the requisite skill to conduct NICE’s “careful and frequent monitoring”.

    The whole fucking thing’s a sham, perpetuated by charlatans and administered by incompetents.


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