Clinical practice points for ADHD

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By Martin Whitely MLA

The off colour Australian colloquialism ‘you can’t polish a turd but you can cover it in glitter’ is a fitting analogy for the danger of legitimising ADHD as a diagnosable mental illness by developing treatment guidelines. However, treatment guidelines are being developed and the more conservative the treatment guidelines, the fewer children risk damage with the long-term administration of amphetamines.

That is why I welcome the release by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of the Australian ADHD Clinical Practice Points (CPPs) as a small but significant step in the right direction. (The CPPs available at )

Eventually ADHD will be regarded as an embarrassing footnote of history and society will collectively wonder how anyone ever thought it would be a good idea to give amphetamines to children. But in the meantime improvements like those in the ADHD CPPs, although modest, will hopefully see fewer children diagnosed and drugged.

That said, the CPPs are far from perfect. The statement that, “…stimulants might be considered for this age group (under 7 years)” leaves the door open for drugging very young children.[1] The manufacturers prescribing information for all stimulants state they should not be used in children under 6 years, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established.[2] Any clinician ignoring the manufacturers warning is inviting a future law suit for negligence.

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The Draft Australian ADHD Clinical Practice Points are out for public comment until 28 November 2011. (available at Please make the effort to prepare a submission. Common-sense voices concerned about the welfare of children, and not the profit and convenience of adults, need to be heard right now. It is certain the ADHD industry will be very organised and use this opportunity to try and expand their already lucrative markets. They cannot be allowed to dominate this very important process.  My detailed submission follows. Feel free to borrow at will.

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