Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 389 - Prescriptions data [22891/17].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 389 - Prescriptions data [22891/17]. (16 May 2017)

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389. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Health the data on trends in the prescription of stimulant drugs to children for the past 20 years; if the collected data indicate an overall rise in problems associated with prescribed stimulants in terms of stunting of growth, cardiovascular anomalies and diversion for recreational or other unauthorised use; the steps he will take to address a rise in prescription rates and associated problems regarding stimulant medications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22891/17]


Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): Stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate (brand names include Ritalin, Concerta and Equasym) or atomoxetine (Strattera) are authorised in the treatment of conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as part of a comprehensive treatment programme which typically includes psychological, educational and social measures. As previously highlighted to the Deputy (Parliamentary Questions Nos. 508 and 509 of 11 April 2017; reference Nos. 17648/17 and 17651/17), medicinal products authorised in Ireland and Europe are required to have detailed accompanying product information.


  European reviews on the use of such stimulant medicinal products have resulted in updates to product information in order to support better informed prescribing and use of these medicinal products. A risk of cardiovascular anomalies and effects on growth are known to occur in association with methylphenidate and atomoxetine and the product information for these medicines includes detailed warnings regarding the use of stimulants in patients with structural cardiac abnormalities, severe hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions, as well as a warning regarding the misuse of stimulants. Guidance is provided regarding the monitoring of growth status, including advice to consider stopping treatment if growth is adversely affected.


  The HPRA has communicated updates to product information for stimulant medicinal products via its Drug Safety Newsletter, articles in the Monthly Index of Medical Specialities (MIMS) and through approval of Direct Healthcare Professional (DHPC) letters directly from the marketing authorisation holder (MAH – the company who holds the licence for a drug) to healthcare professionals. Additionally educational materials for patients and prescribers (as approved by the HPRA) have also been developed by the marketing authorisation holders for certain stimulant products. These materials help support the safe and effective prescribing of medicinal products. These materials are accessible from the HPRA website: https://www.hpra.ie/homepage/medicines/safety-information/educational-material.


  The HPRA, in conjunction with European counterparts, continues to review the safety of authorised medicines and takes appropriate regulatory action when necessary.


  I have no available information on prescribing rates. I have asked the HSE to review what information is available on prescribing of stimulant drugs to children and to provide whatever information is available directly to the Deputy.

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