Listen to an interview about prescription drug abuse with our editor Jane Mundy on CJAD 800AM
Adderall and Adderall XR are powerful blends of four amphetamines that include Dexedrine and Benzedrine. Adderall is a strong stimulant prescribed to children and adults to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In February 2006 the FDA reported 51 deaths in patients taking ADHD medications, including Adderall.
Adderall Death and Side Effects
Adderall and Adderall XR (generic name Amphetamine Mixed Salts) are powerful blends of four amphetamines that include Dexedrine and Benzedrine and were originally made for weight loss. Adderall XR (extended release) was approved for children over 6 in 2001 and Adderall (approved in 1996) is prescribed for children over 3 years.
It is also prescribed to patients with bipolar disorder, but some health professionals believe that Adderall could be very dangerous for these people: If someone with bipolar disorder takes the drug during a manic stage of the condition they could go into psychosis, which can be very dangerous, both to themselves and others.
Adderall abuse can have life damaging affects, including addiction and dependency. Increasingly, Adderall is consumed as a street drug, and is particularly popular with college students, believing the smart drug helps their studies. Unfortunately, it is a gateway drug to many users, many of whom move on to harder drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
In a study published in the American Heart Journal, researchers found that amphetamine abusers faced 3.3 times the risk of developing a torn aorta after reviewing medical records of nearly 31 million patients nationwide, ages 18 to 49. Adderall and Adderall XR are classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration, US Department of Justice as Schedule II Substances, which means that Adderall and Adderall XR have a "high potential for abuse" that "may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence." The US federal government sets limits on the amount of these amphetamine drugs that may be manufactured each year.
The National Public Radio (November 22, 2011) reported that Adderall prescription users may have trouble finding Adderall at the local pharmacy, possibly due to a distribution problem: the drug is widely available illegally, especially in high schools and in colleges.
In 2004, Shire Pharmaceuticals, the Adderall distributor, voluntarily reported to the FDA 20 deaths by heart attack and 12 strokes: Fourteen of those deaths and two of those 12 strokes were in children. Most of those deaths occurred in individuals who were taking Adderall in a prescribed manner. Adderall is manufactured by Catalytica Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Greenville, North Carolina and is distributed by Shire. Generic equivalents (known as "amphetamine salts," "mixed amphetamines," or simply "amphetamines," to pharmacists) are also distributed in the US by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Ranbaxy Laboratories.
Adderall Heart Attack and Adderall Stroke
In 2005, Health Canada suspended sales of Adderall following reports of possibly 20 sudden deaths and 12 strokes. However, the stimulant was put back on the Canadian market six months later because an independent panel couldn't "accurately ascertain whether the drug increases risk of cardiac death." Health Canada is closely monitoring the Adderall risks and Adderall side effects.
In early 2006, the FDA's advisory panel learned that during the time period 1999 to 2003 there were 81 deaths and 54 non-fatal cardiovascular events possibly linked to the ADHD/ADD drugs. Adderall was involved in more fatal case reports than any other ADHD/ADD drug, with 24 deaths reported during 1999 to 2003. The chairman of the panel, Dr. Peter Gross, likened Adderall to Vioxx (Vioxx was recalled after a long delayed discovery that it substantially increases risk of heart attack or stroke). The panel concluded a black box warning was needed on Adderall and the other ADHD/ADD drugs.
However, Shire Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer, stated that it agreed with the FDA's desire for more safety studies concerning its drug, but disagreed with the FDA advisory panel's recommendation that a black-box warning be put on Adderall. Sales of Adderall XR, distributed by Shire Pharmaceuticals, were $759 million in the US in 2004 and $10 million in Canada.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder in children. Yet a growing number of health experts believe that supposed ADHD children should not be prescribed stimulants. Further, in February 2006 an FDA Advisory Committee stated that ADHD drugs are being prescribed to too many children because the ADHD diagnosis is so controversial. Nearly 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with ADHD, many of whom are prescribed Adderall.
Adderall and ADHD/ADD
Increasing, diagnosis of attention problems in both children and adults have contributed to prescription growth; According to the Wall Street Journal, Shire R&D chief Jeff Jonas said there is an increased awareness that ADHD is actually a lifelong disorder, which is likely good news for Adderall makers.
Adderall XR is approved for children 6 years of age and older but may be prescribed to children younger than 6 years of age. ADHD is characterized by restlessness, the inability to focus, difficulty sitting still and trouble controlling impulses.
Adderall has been linked to sudden death and serious cardiovascular problems. Side effects can include:
Adderall Side Effects
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Exacerbation of Tourette's syndrome
- Worsening of tics
- Psychosis and mania
Recent findings released by FDA show a possible link between Adderall and the deaths of 51 individuals taking the medication. Meanwhile, FDA said it will conduct thorough research on the safety of Adderall and other ADHD drugs.
Adderall lawsuits allege that Shire Pharmaceuticals was negligent and marketed a dangerous product that injured many patients who took the drug.
Litigation involving Ritalin, a similar ADHD drug, claimed that Novartis, the manufacturer of Ritalin, conspired to invent the diagnosis of ADHD, a diagnosis that is not recognized in many other countries.
A $10 million lawsuit filed in November 2011 against the Oregon State Hospital alleges that a mental patient, Joshua Jaschke, age 32, suffered two heart attacks because he was overmedicated and mistreated at the Salem psychiatric facility.
The Marion County civil suit claims that Jaschke was prescribed Adderall, along with other medications, which caused him "to feel sick and suffer pain and heart attacks and permanent damage to his heart." According to the Adderall lawsuit, Jaschke suffered two heart attacks during a one-week period in November 2009.
Adderall Legal HelpIf you or a family member has been affected by Adderall, you may qualify for damages or remedies that might be awarded in a possible class action or lawsuit. Please fill out the Adderall Complaint form below.
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