This New Kid-Friendly Medication Has People Worried

May 24th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

Just a few weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that too many kids are prescribed medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

But you wouldn't know that from looking at a press release about Adzenys XR-ODT, the new orange-flavored ADHD medication that dissolves in the mouth without water, and is geared towards kids as young as six.

Adzenys XR-ODT

In fact, the amphetamine, which launched on the market 13 days after the CDC report, is causing concern among some medical experts who worry about bolstering the overmedication of kids with ADHD and fueling dependence on — and abuse of — prescription drugs.

"I'm not a big fan of controlled substances that come in forms that can be easily abused — and certainly a chewable drug falls into that category," Dr. Mukund Gnanadesikan, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in California, told the health and medicine news site Stat.

ADHD medication, such as Adderall and Ritalin, is some of the most commonly-prescribed out there. An estimated 75 percent of children with ADHD are on medication — and markets are booming. According to one recent report from the market research firm IBISWorld, ADHD medication sales tripled between 2006 and 2015, ballooning to $12.7 billion. By 2020, sales are expected to reach $17.5 billion.

But ADHD drugs are also commonly abused among both young people and adults. And it's for that host of reasons that some have voiced concern about yet another Adderall-like drug on the market.

"People who want to prescribe these medicines have been prescribing them with great frequency anyway, but in a minor way, I guess this will make it a bit easier, which probably isn't the best thing," Sanford Newmark, clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco, told ATTN:.

"I'd like to see it made a bit harder," he added.

Citing concerns about over-diagnosing ADHD among children, critics say that medication is too-easily dolled out.

And thanks to "unrealistic demands in schools or stressed-out parents obsessed with having a perfect child," it's unclear if those prescriptions are actually an answer to a real problem — or one that couldn't first be mitigated by alternative treatments like counseling, or behavior therapy, as many other countries recommend, The Washington Post reported.

Bottle of Adderall pillsBut others, including doctors and drug manufacturers, say that more ADHD drugs are there for good reason.

Doctor Theresa Cerulli, a neuropsychiatrist who specializes in ADHD, told ATTN: that finding ways to help families struggling with ADHD diagnoses is an important goal for medical providers, as is understanding the risks associated with new medication.

"When there are new medications that become available, it's important to understand what the improvements are, and what the risks might be, but not to have an all-or-none response. That feels the opposite of what we hope to do with development in any field."

Thomas McDonnell, chief commercial officer for Adzenys XR-ODT's manufacturer, Neos Therapeutics, told ATTN: that the drug is not the first fruity, chewable ADHD drug, and that it also serves those who might have trouble ingesting other versions.

"We support wholeheartedly making sure that appropriate diagnosis of ADHD is done, and appropriate treatment as well," McDonnell said.

In response to criticism of Adzenys XR-ODT, Neos Therapeutics released this statement:

ADHD impacts many different types of patients with diverse needs. Neos’ goal in making Adzenys XR-ODT available to physicians to prescribe is to provide an alternative for patients and families that have struggled to find the right treatment for this serious neurobehavioral disorder. Patients in other disease categories have a variety of options at their disposal and patients with ADHD and their physicians should have the same treatment options available to them.

Still, for those who see an already-saturated market for ADHD drugs further inundated with new, easily marketable drugs, there's a danger feeding fuel to the flame of overprescription and overmedication.

"It's just one more little thing that's going to push people into taking medication," Newmark said.