New Hampshire No. 1 nationally
in Ritalin purchases
New Hampshire residents buy more Ritalin, the drug used to treat attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder, than people in any other state, according to
a published report.
All the New England states
use large amounts of Ritalin and its generic equivalents per capita, a fact
that doctors attribute to the region's affluence and good medical care, The
Boston Globe reported Tuesday.
Methylphenidate, which is
sold in many forms but best known by the brand name Ritalin, became widely
used about 15 years ago. Critics say the drug is overprescribed as a
performance enhancer, while supporters say it should be made more available
to children to treat ADHD.
The Drug Enforcement
Administration, which measures how much methylphenidate per capita is
shipped into each state, found that in 2000, New Hampshire led the country,
closely followed by Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine,
all among the 10 top-selling states in the nation.
Gene Harkless, director of
the family nurse practitioner program at the University of New Hampshire,
attributed the high use of Ritalin in New England to the region's higher
income level and the value its residents place on education.
Others attribute it to New
Englanders' access to good medical care. New England researchers have
produced a lot of the groundbreaking research on ADHD in recent decades,
said Russell Barkley, a professor of psychiatry and neurology at the
University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester.
Combine that with the high
concentration of physicians per capita and more children are likely to be
prescribed medication for attention disorders, said Allen Mendell, a child
psychiatrist in Nashua.
Methylphenidate is a mild
central nervous system stimulant that, according to the DEA, "produces
pharmacological effects similar to those of cocaine or amphetamine."
Recent research suggests it
produces a calming effect in children with ADHD.
It is not addictive when
taken orally in treatment doses, according to a study from Brookhaven
But some are concerned about
The DEA's reported
consumption rates for Vermont so alarmed several lawmakers that earlier this
year they drafted a bill aiming to suppress its use, only to be swamped with
testimonials from families who said the drug had been an enormous boon.
Connecticut has already passed a similar law.