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ADHD drugs not effective, research shows

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Drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are not effective in the long term, according to US researchers.

The largest treatment study of ADHD ever conducted found that while drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta are effective in the short term, there is no evidence to suggest they are any better than therapy after three years of treatment.

The study, to be publicised in tonight's Panorama programme on BBC1, also suggested that long-term use of drugs used to treat ADHD could stunt children’s growth.

The Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA) has been monitoring the treatment of nearly 600 children with ADHD across the US since the 1990’s.

In 1999 it claimed that, after one year, medication worked better than behavioural therapy. But study co-author, Professor William Pelham of the University of Buffalo, said: ‘I think that we exaggerated the beneficial impact of medication in the first study. We had thought that children medicated longer would have better outcomes. That didn’t happen to be the case.’

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