It doesn’t show up on a blood test, biopsy, or breath test. But ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a bona fide diagnosis, and ignoring the symptoms can have lasting—and dramatic—effects.
“I understand why a parent may initially question whether ADHD is a medical condition,” says Rakesh Jain, MD, MPH, Director of Psychiatric Drug Research for R/D Clinical Research at Lake Jackson, Texas. “They have a right—in fact an obligation—to do so. But the scientific evidence that ADHD is real and impairing is very strong. By all means question, but also educate yourself in detail so that if your child does have ADHD, you don’t ignore it. Left untreated, long term consequences of ADHD are very often disastrous for the children, and their families.
ADHD affects about three to seven percent of American school-aged children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s no known cause, and no cure yet on the horizon for the disorder that experts define as a mix of persistent inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than typical among peers.
Treatments include educational, behavioral, and pharmaceutical approaches, including a new prescription drug option for children and adolescents from Shire biopharmaceutical company. In February, the FDA approved Intuniv (guanfacine) extended release tablets for use as adjunctive therapy to stimulants, making Intuniv the first once-daily nonstimulant to be approved for use alone or in combination with stimulants for treatment of ADHD.
The medicine has no known potential for abuse or dependence.
“This approval of INTUNIV for treating ADHD as adjunctive therapy to a stimulant offers physicians a new treatment option for children and adolescents with ADHD who are having a suboptimal response to their current stimulant therapy,” said Robert Findling, MD, Director of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and a lead investigator for a 9-week placebo-controlled study of INTUNIV when given in combination with a stimulant in children ages 6 to 17 with ADHD. “In this study, the once-daily dosing of INTUNIV was effective when taken in the morning or the evening, giving physicians flexibility when it comes to treating their patients with ADHD.”
Coming in Part 2: Post editors interview Dr. Rakesh Jain to learn more about the new drug and catch up on latest ADHD research.