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Generation Rx

Are too many kids on Ritalin?

(HealthDay) -- About 4 million children in the United States have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), yet almost 20 million prescriptions were written last year for the stimulant drugs used to treat the disorder, reports this CNN article.

Are American children being over-medicated? The debate, which has been going on for years, will likely heat up in the next few months as manufacturers of drugs like Ritalin will be allowed to use television and print ads to pitch their medications directly to the consumer.

"I think it's a big mistake [to allow the ads]," says Lenny Winkler, a state representative from Connecticut and a trained emergency room nurse. "I believe we are over-medicating our children."

Winkler is concerned that the ads will target the wrong people. She says the information should be going to physicians because they're the only ones qualified to decide if a child needs to be medicated. But often, she points out, teachers are the ones making the recommendations on drugs.

Many children do need medication and benefit from it, but it's not a cure-all, explains the article. Kids often need behavioral therapy as well.

"Medication is a piece of the picture," says Evelyn Green, president of Children and Adults with ADHD. "It works for lots of kids; it certainly worked for my child, and it works for a lot of adults, but it doesn't work for everybody and it's not a magic bullet."

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