ADHD Drugs Found to Trigger Suicidal Thoughts

Canadian Ministry of Health revises warnings on ADHD drugs after numerous reports indicating they lead to suicidal behavior.

Dalit Halevy, Ari Yashar,

Pills (illustration)
Pills (illustration)
Flash 90

The Canadian Ministry of Health announced on Monday that it will start including new warnings on drugs taken to control Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), after reports show they may have side effects of increasing suicidal thoughts.

The step is being taken in response to the ministry receiving a number of reports concerning patients taking ADHD drugs who saw an increase in thoughts of suicide, including several suicide attempts and even actual suicides in a very small number of instances.

"This risk is already known for one ADHD drug, Strattera (atomoxetine)," notes the announcement. "New information has emerged since to suggest that the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours may apply to all other ADHD drugs," it adds, noting that while the drugs appear not to cause the behavior, they may "contribute to the risk."

The health ministry points out that "ADHD may also affect people who have other mental health conditions that are associated with an increased risk of suicide, such as depression or bipolar disorder."

All ADHD drugs are now to receive revised standardized warnings, aside from Strattera which already warns about the risk.

Pointing out several brand name ADHD drugs available in Canada, the announcement lists: ADDERALL XR (mixed salts amphetamine extended-release), BIPHENTIN (methylphenidate controlled release), CONCERTA (methylphenidate extended release), DEXEDRINE (dextroamphetamine sulfate), INTUNIV XR (guanfacine extended release), RITALIN (methylphenidate), RITALIN SR (methylphenidate extended release), STRATTERA (atomoxetine), VYVANSE (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate).

"It is Health Canada's view that the benefits of these drugs in the effective management of ADHD continue to outweigh their risks," emphasizes the statement, while stating the revised warnings will call for patients and those around them to carefully monitor "moods, behaviors, thoughts and feelings" in those taking the medications.

The ministry's statements conclude by urging patients to consult with their physicians about their treatment, and to discuss their full medical history including tendencies towards suicidal thoughts or familial mental health illnesses before starting on the drugs.




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