Distribution of ADHD Medications Among Children

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The Very Shocking History of ADHD Medications

Posted on | February 11, 2013 | 3 Comments

If you haven’t already noticed, I am one of these children who was prescribed ADHD medication at the age of six and have been dependent on them ever since. I was not even aware of the history of these drugs until now and I was very shocked after completing my research. This is why.

The first study using Benzedrine (racemic amphetamine) in children with behavioral problems was done in 1937 by Dr. Charles Bradley. He first began his study to see if the medication would treat their severe headaches but then accidentally found that it helped with their behavior and school performance.  In 1952, the first edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published by the American Physiological Association (APA)  and does not mention anything about an ADHD like disorder. The first study of Ritalin’s effects on “emotionally disturbed children” was published in 1963 stating how it relieves these symptoms in effected children. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was revised in 1968 which included a disorder called “hyperkinetic reaction of childhood”. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 made stimulants including Ritalin Schedule II medications.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published their first statement about hyperkinetic activity called Medication for Hyperkinetic Children in 1980. It says in addition to non medicated therapy there are stimulant drugs to treat hyperkinetic children. The third edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published in 1987 changing the name to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. With this, the AAP released a report called Medication for Children With an Attention Deficit Disorder which offers drug therapy  by using Ritalin, Dexedrine and Cylert. In 1994 the APA broadened the diagnosis criteria of ADHD. The last and final change to this disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was edited in 2000 to list multiple types of ADHD including combine type, inattentive type and hyperactive impulse type. It wasn’t until 2007 when the ADHD medication labels were updated to include cardiovascular ricks of possible structural cardiac abnormalities that can form like serious heart problems and sudden death in adolescents. Psychological symptoms were added as well including hallucinations, delusional thinking or mania.

Now that you have learned how ADHD was discovered here are some of the statics that go along with this time line. According to the DEA, the number of written ADHD medication prescriptions has increased 500% since 1991 and 80% of these prescriptions were written to treat childhood ADHD. From 1991 to 2001 the production of Adderall and Dexedrine production increased by 2,000%. Also in this time frame, the amount of diagnosed preschoolers with ADHD tripled and the children between the ages of 5 to 14 diagnosed raised by 170% while children ages 15 to 18 increased by 311%.  Here is a timeline of when ADHD medications were created by brand.

  • 1937 – Benzedrine (racemic amphetamine)
  • 1943 – Desoxyn (methamphetamine hydrochloride)
  • 1955 – Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  • 1955-1983 – Biphetamine (mixed amphetamine/dextroamphetamine resin)
  • 1960 – Adderall (mixed amphetamine/dextroamphetamine salts)
  • 1975-2003 – Cylert (pemoline)
  • 1976 – Dextrostat (dextroamphetamine)
  • 1976 – Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
  • 1982 – Ritalin SR
  • 1999 – Metadate ER (methylphenidate)
  • 2000 – Concerta (methylphenidate)
  • 2000 – Methylin ER (methylphenidate)
  • 2001 – Metadate CD (methylphenidate)
  • 2001 – Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)
  • 2001 – Adderall XR (mixed amphetamine salts)
  • 2002 – Ritalin LA
  • 2002 – Methylin (methylphenidate) oral solution and chewable tablet
  • 2002 – Strattera (atomoxetine)
  • 2005 – Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate)
  • 2006 – Daytrana (methylphenidate)
  • 2007 – Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate)
  • 2009 – Intuniv (guanfacine hydrochloride)
  • 2010 – Kapvay (clonidine hydrocloride)

If you have not done the math, between the years of 1937 to 1982 which is a 45 year span 9 medications were made. Between the years of 1990 to 2010 14 medications were made in a 11 year span.

In the beginning of ADHD history the medication was founded before the disorder! As medications developed  the disorder did as well.  In medical history, medications were used to solve a problem thus a problem has to exist before the treatment does. In this scenario that is not the case. ADHD medication was discovered on accident but yet they found a cure in children before they even knew there was a serious problem. The effects of this have lead to diagnosing more people with a disorder who might not have a problem and to then sell a product. It’s like an infomercial: they try to sell you a product to solve a problem you didn’t even know you had until you watched the commercial. So then what is this “disease” based off of? Is it based on a problem or selling a solution?


This is an outline of the history of ADHD medications. It is a directs and precise outline including all the draft changes and medications that have been made over the years. Each section has a date and the related event that happened in that time era. I found it very easy to use and quite informative.



3 Responses to “The Very Shocking History of ADHD Medications”

  1. Jasmine Greene
    February 16th, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

    I enjoyed reading your post Kristen. I would suggest to explain more in depth on how exaclty did Dr. Charles Bradley find out that the medication helped with children’s behavior and performance in school. You stated in your post, “The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 made stimulants including Ritalin Schedule II medications.” What exactly are Schedule II medications? I would just clarify any terms like this that people will not automatically know to make it an easier read and they can better understand 🙂 I like how you provided a timeline for the ADHD medications so we can actually see the changes. I also would suggest to maybe cut back a little on how much statistical information you provide in a single post. I feel like having too many statistics can take away from the substance of the post and the message you are trying to get across.

  2. Billie Jean
    February 18th, 2013 @ 11:39 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed your history on the issue. Your use of statistics and the timeline are great evidential data to support your history. Similarly, how you led up to the conclusion of suggesting that the medications are not prescribed to solve the problem, but appear to be prescribed to “boost drug sales” flows really well with the data presented in the beginning of your post. There were some grammatical errors, so I would suggest proofreading the post again. I tend to get ahead of myself as well and overlook grammar often. I think rick is supposed to be risks?? I do agree with Jasmine also on defining what some of the terms are to people who aren’t familiar with them. I’d really be interested in knowing what some of these things are since I feel this closely relates to the experiences I have had with my son and the prescribed medications they gave him throughout his first year of life for his numerous health conditions. Great detail of history though!!

  3. Rikk
    February 19th, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

    Kristen, very nice presentation of the issue in a graphic manner as well as narrative. Please proof yourself a little more; you have a few typos and grammar snags that can be distracting, as are some “oops” moments (“Between the years of 1990 to 2010 14 medications were made in a 11 year span.” — this should be 1999 to 2010 to avoid confusion, and I only know this by checking your really nice timeline; otherwise I would focus on “1990” first and mistake your meaning.

    Also, while the rhetorical questions definitely underscore and emphasize your pathos and emotion, unanswered rhetorical questions can distract, rather than direct your reader.

    Last, “About.com” is not on my typical “authority” list. The links seem to offer good information, but there is no citation or link to the initial sources, so we have no away of verifying these claims. Make sure that you CITE your sources at the end of these entries, not just offer one critical source response/summary. This will matter when you bring your information together in your course assignments.

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