Use of prescription drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is growing at a faster rate among adults than children, new research shows.
Between 2000 and 2004, use of drugs that help keep ADHD patients focused doubled among adults ages 20 to 44 and rose 56% among children, according to data compiled by Medco Health Solutions, Franklin Lakes, N.J.
Use rose 113% among women ages 20 to 44 and 104% among women ages 45 to 64 -- in both cases, far more than among men. Spending on the medicines quadrupled.
Experts say reasons for the surge include better drugs and advertising and the realization by parents of children diagnosed with ADHD that they have the same symptoms.
"We're seeing about 1% of adults being treated," but four times as many are estimated to have ADHD, said Robert Epstein, M.D., Medco's chief medical officer. Nearly 1.5 million Americans 20 and older are using the drugs, Medco said.
Those figures dispel earlier beliefs that children "grow out of the disorder," said Patricia Quinn, M.D., a developmental pediatrician at the National Center for Gender Issues and ADHD and an adviser to an advocacy group for children and adults with the disorder.