Citizens Committee on Human Rights

The Mental Health Watchdog

Australian National Office

ADHD drugs can Permanently Increase Blood Pressure

CCHR Calls for Australian Draft ADHD Guidelines to be Scrapped: Landmark Study Shows ADHD drugs can Permanently Increase Blood Pressure

Ipad with the Text Side Effects on the DisplayThe release of the landmark Raine Study in Western Australia that shows ADHD drugs worsen academic performance and dangerously increase diastolic blood pressure (the pressure between heart beats) has prompted calls for the Draft ADHD Guidelines to be scrapped. This side effect can predispose children to the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) said the ADHD Guidelines, if implemented, will further put Australian children at risk. For years the risks of ADHD drugs, including death and suicidal behavior have been known. In 2006, Australian warnings were strengthened highlighting the risk of cardiac problems with all ADHD drugs in children with existing heart conditions. The new study shows the drugs may cause the condition in children without pre-existing heart conditions. Ritalin also carries a warning for suicide and suicidal ideation.

This Raine Study, conducted by the Telethon Institute, is a world first long-term study which debunks psychiatrists’ claims that stimulants help children focus and, thereby helps increase academic performance. Researchers found: “Stimulant medication use increased the odds of below-age-level academic achievement by a factor of 10 times” which “strongly suggests that medication may not result in any long term academic gains (as rated by a classroom teacher).”

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians Draft ADHD Guidelines were halted under a cloud of controversy in late 2009 when CCHR revealed that US psychiatrist, Joseph Biederman-upon whose studies the Committee, in part, relied-is currently under U.S. Congressional investigation for his undisclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Biederman, studies are cited more than 70 times in the ADHD guidelines. The US Senate Finance Committee is investigating his receiving up to US$1.6 million from drug companies to research and promote specific drugs.

That conflict of interest also dogged the RACP Committee developing the ADHD Guidelines and last year it was forced under public pressure to reveal its members’ financial ties to drug companies. In many cases, those drug companies produce the drugs that currently appear as the first line of treatment for “moderate to severe ADHD” in the Guidelines. At least 10 of the 19 members have/have had financial ties, with the most recent draft listing their conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry. See below for details.

The Committee reported that it analysed 265 studies in the Draft Systematic Review document, which was then used to write the Guidelines. A total of 89 or 31% of these studies were industry funded. The pharmaceutical industry has already benefited from an annual 12% increase in prescription rates of psychostimulants since 2003/04, with sales of these drugs now reaching $21 million on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has already reported 863 suspected adverse reactions to ADHD drugs. These include the sudden death of a 7 year old, a 5 year old that suffered a stroke after taking Ritalin along with 23 reports of suicidal behaviour in children.

“The Raine study has international significance,” Ms. Shelley Wilkins, Executive Director of the Australian National Office of CCHR, said. “It, along with the many other studies, reinforces the fact that ADHD drugs harm children. And parents who have been led to believe that stimulants can help their children’s school grades have been deceived. Add to this the clear conflict of interests within the Committee members, and there is no other action the government can take but to scrap the Guidelines. We should no longer tolerate our children being exposed to potentially life-threatening mind-altering drugs,” says Ms Wilkins.

Dualities and Conflicts of Interest of ADHD Guidelines Committee Members

  • Dr. Daryl Effron was Chair of the Committee until his conflicts were exposed in 2007. He has been on the advisory boards of Novartis that makes Ritalin and Eli Lilly that manufactures Straterra-both drugs prescribed to treat ADHD. While standing down as Chair, he remained a Committee member.
  • Dr. Patrick Concannon, has been sponsored by Eli Lilly to attend a conference 1 and served on advisory committees for Novartis and Janssen-Cilag that makes the ADHD drug Concerta.2 See page 64.
  • Professor David Hay is a Professor of Psychology at Curtain University of Technology in WA and Janssen-Cilag the makers of the ADHD drug Concerta, funded his presentation at an educational seminar.3
  • Ms. Michelle Pearce from WA who is on the Education Group of the Committee, helped write a booklet, “Teenagers with ADHD” for Novartis. 4
  • Professor Loretta Giorcelli from NSW, who is the only other member of the Education Group of the Committee appealed against the release of the disclosure documents when CCHR placed a Freedom of Information Request to obtain the details of vested interests of the Committee. When they were released she disclosed at the first meeting that she had received expenses plus accommodation to attend a meeting as an educational advisor paid for by Janssen Cilag who make the ADHD drug Concerta. 5
  • Psychiatrist, Dr Julian Troller from NSW has received personal payments for consultancy and review work for Novartis, Eli Lilly and Pfizer. 6
  • Psychiatrist Dr Mark Kneebone also from NSW declared that he had attended psychiatric meetings that had been sponsored by Wyeth.7
  • Professor Michael Sawyer from SA was sponsored by Eli Lilly to attend an annual conference of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 8
  • Geraldine Moore, Consumer Advocate from Victoria wrote a book on ADHD and the catering at the launch of this book was funded by Eli Lilly who make the ADHD drug Strattera.9
  • Joy Toll the only other Consumer Advocate on the Committee and founder and current secretary of ADDults with ADHD NSW, approached Eli Lilly to sponsor the cost of printing her organisations information pamphlet and since 2003 she has attended consultation meetings with Eli Lilly who provide her with taxi vouchers and food. 10
  • Professor Philip Hazel, Clinical Director of the Centre for Mental Health Studies in the Hunter NSW attended the first meeting for the drafting of the ADHD Guidelines and according to his disclosure documents which CCHR obtained under the Freedom of Information Act he has been on advisory boards of Eli Lilly who make the ADHD drug Strattera, Novartis who make Ritalin, Shire, Jansen and Pfizer. 11
  • Michelle Toner from Learning and Attentional Deficit Society in WA also attended the first meeting and disclosed that her organisation had received limited and unrestricted grants from Eli Lilly, Janssen-Cilag and Novartis. 12
  • Jude Foster the director of the Wraparound Kids Program attended the first meeting and she also appealed against release of her documents. When they were released her document dated 1/03/07 stated she was a member of the Advisory Board for Novartis and Janssen Cilag- both drug companies who make ADHD drugs. 13

For further information please contact CCHR, which was co-founded by the Church of Scientology & Professor of Psychiatry, Dr Thomas Szasz in 1969 to investigate and expose psychiatric violations against human rights.


  1. “Draft ADHD Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, List of Appendices,” The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, June 2009, p.4.
  2. Clinical Excellence Commission Report: “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and adolescents in New South Wales- 2007. Final Report of the Special Review, December 2007,” page 64.
  3. Draft ADHD Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, List of Appendices, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians,” June 2009, p.8.
  4. “Teenagers with ADHD” http://www.adhdsupport.com.au/pdf/adolescent.pdf accessed 18th July 2008, See page 2 and “Draft ADHD Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, List of Appendices, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians,” June 2009, p.9.
  5. Freedom of Information Request done by Citizens Committee on Human Rights to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. Documents released to CCHR on 12 December 2008.
  6. Draft ADHD Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, List of Appendices,” The Royal Australasian College of Physicians,” June 2009, p.6.
  7. Draft ADHD Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, List of Appendices, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians,” June 2009, p.6.
  8. Draft ADHD Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, List of Appendices, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians,” June 2009, p.6 & 7.
  9. Freedom of Information Request done by Citizens Committee on Human Rights to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. Documents released to CCHR on 15 September 2008.
  10. Draft ADHD Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, List of Appendices, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians,” June 2009, p.9 & 10.
  11. Freedom of Information Request done by Citizens Committee on Human Rights to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. Documents released to CCHR on 15 September 2008.
  12. Freedom of Information Request done by Citizens Committee on Human Rights to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. Documents released to CCHR on 15 September 2008.
  13. Freedom of Information Request done by Citizens Committee on Human Rights to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. Documents released to CCHR on 8 January 2009
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