University of Dundee research confirms long-term safety of ADHD medication

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An international study, run by the University of Dundee, involving hundreds of children has discovered that the most frequently prescribed medication, Methylphenidate, for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents is safe to use long-term.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) rejected Methylphenidate for inclusion in their Essential Medicines List due to concerns regarding the quality and limitations of the available data and evidence for both benefit and risk. However, the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Drugs Use Chronic Effects (ADDUCE) project has revealed that methylphenidate does not increase the risk of psychiatric or neurological adverse effects or growth impairments in children and adolescents.

Over the course of two years, approximately 1410 children from various child and adolescent mental health centres in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Hungary participated in the project.

According to the study, children taking methylphenidate grew at the same pace as children who did not and there was no adverse effect on their mental health

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Dr Sarah Inglis, from the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine, served as the project trial manager for the ADDUCE study. She stated, “The use of methylphenidate has gone up greatly since it was licensed in the 1950s and yet information about side effects from long-term use is scarce. We observed the characteristics of a large number of children with ADHD across Europe, including 274 from Dundee, taking methylphenidate over a period of two years. We compared these characteristics with children with ADHD not taking methylphenidate, and with children without ADHD. The study shows that the growth rate of children taking methylphenidate over two years was not different to that of children who were not.”

These findings of the ADDUCE study provide supportive evidence for the inclusion of methylphenidate on WHO’s Essential Medicines List, which would help increase the availability of the medicine and support more children around the world with ADHD.

The University of Dundee is a key partner of the ADDUCE Consortium alongside several universities and institutions around the world, including the University College London, the University of Hong Kong and the University of Melbourne.

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