Citizens Committee on Human Rights

The Mental Health Watchdog

Australian National Office

New Australian Clinical Practice Points (CPPs) on ADHD could see Children Removed from their Parents if they Refuse to “Treat their Child’s ADHD”

Boy holding the label ADHD in front of his chestAn extremely concerning statement in the CPPs on ADHD indicates that Australia could now be following the US model where children can be removed from their parents if they refuse to give their child ADHD drugs. On page 15 of the CPPs it states, “As with any medical intervention, the inability of the parents to implement strategies may raise child protection concerns.”

Please do a submission to protect our children and express your objections by 28th November 2011

By the end of 2010 there were already more than 52,000 children aged between 2 and 16 on ADHD drugs in Australia. The stimulants and antidepressants used to “treat” ADHD are known to cause hallucinations, delusions, heart problems, high blood pressure and suicidal reactions.

A new and additional document has just been drafted by a panel of experts titled, Clinical Practice Points on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity in Children and Adolescents (CPPs). These have been written to “complement” (not replace) the ADHD Guidelines and will also be an interim measure while the validity  of the current Draft ADHD Guidelines is verified. There are well meaning experts on this new panel for the CPPs.  The Draft ADHD Guidelines were halted earlier this year due to conflicts of interest of psychiatrist Joseph Biederman whose work was heavily citied in the Draft ADHD Guidelines. Biederman was sanctioned after allegedly failing to report $1.6 million in consulting fees he received from drug companies. The National Health and Medical Research Council will meet in early December 2011 to decide if they will scrap the draft ADHD Guidelines and send them back to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians for a re-write or if they will approve them for use.

These CPP’s  “clarify best practice diagnosis” while at the same time denying there is any evidence that many proven, workable and non-harmful alternatives work and help our children.  The CPPs will remain in use once the ADHD Guidelines are completed.

Major areas of concern in the CPPs for ADHD include:

  • The CCPs could see a child be removed from their parents if they don’t medicate: An extremely concerning statement in the CPPs indicates that Australia could now be following the US model where children can be removed from their parents if they refuse to give their child ADHD drugs.  On page 15 of the CPPs it states, “As with any medical intervention, the inability of the parents to implement strategies may raise child protection concerns.”  Parents are the natural guardians of their child and should always have the right to consent to or refuse psychiatric treatment for their child. [1]
  • Pre-school children and ADHD drugs: The CPPs say pre-schoolers can be given stimulants despite the fact that both the drug companies (who manufacture the main ADHD drugs, Ritalin and Concerta) and the Federal Government, say they should not be used in children under 6 because their safety and efficacy have not been established.
  • What do the CPPs say ADHD is and how should it be treated? Whilst the CPPs states  there is no known cause of ADHD, that ADHD is a description rather than an explanation and there are no specific cures for ADHD; the CPPs recommend potentially dangerous stimulants as the first line treatment when pharmacological treatment is considered. [2] The CPPs say, “A holistic and multidisciplinary approach is recommended in the management of ADHD and this may include medication, psychosocial management and where appropriate education interventions.  The CPPs do not recommend the many other alternatives which are non-harmful and many times have been proven effective in helping a child with unwanted behaviour issues. [3]
  • Complementary and alternative treatments are not recommended: The CPPs state, “There is insufficient evidence to support the management of ADHD in children and adolescents using: Elimination and restriction diets, diet supplementation with essential fatty acids, chiropractic treatment, homeopathy, massage, acupuncture or physical activity.” Many children have in fact been helped with complementary treatments. Please let the panel know of the children you have seen helped, or helped yourself with these alternatives in your submission.  Please also send them any studies you have that show these alternatives can help children. [4]

Conflicts of Interest:

  • Chair of the CPPs Panel, Child and Adolescent psychiatrist Professor Bruce Tonge is currently the Chief Investigator of a $534,782 Melbourne clinical trial which includes giving antidepressants to children who refuse to go to school.  [5]   CCHR is concerned as Professor Tonge could already be biased as he is giving drugs to children aged between 11 and 15 for not going to school.  Antidepressants have warnings for the increased risk of suicide and self harm.  Truancy is not a mental illness.
  • Panel member Professor Michael Khon, in 2010 said he was a member of the ADHD drug Strattera (atomoxetine) Advisory Board for Eli Lilly and has been part of an Eli Lilly study on atomoxetine. Strattera has the strongest Australian government warning, alerting on the risk of suicidality in children. In addition he has received financial support from Janssen-Cilag (makers of Concerta the most commonly prescribed ADHD drug in Australia) to attend a conference and was paid by them to prepare teaching and training material. [6]
  • Panel member Ms Margaret Vikingur, is the president of Learning and Attentional Disorders Society who have received unrestricted grants from Eli Lilly, Novartis and Janssen-Cilag, the makers of Strattera, Ritalin and Concerta respectively. [7]
  • The conflicts of interest of the Peer Reviewers of these CPPs will not be published until AFTER this public consultation. [8]

To Make a Submission:

The correct Submission Form (coversheet)  MUST be used or your submission will not be accepted.

Online: Log onto the National Health and Medical Research Website at: http://consultations.nhmrc.gov.au/open_public_consultations/a-d-h-d to read the CPPS for ADHD and make a submission.    You can obtain a submission form (coversheet) which you will need no matter how you lodge your submission on the same link.   See  near the bottom of the page.  The easiest way to lodge a submission is to down load the coversheet, write your submission under the coversheet and then email it to the below email.

Email: adhdcpps@nhmrc.gov.au

Mail: Project Officer – Draft ADHD CPPs, Strategic Partnership Section, NHMRC, GPO Box 1421, Canberra ACT 2601.

Fax: (02) 6217 9035


[1] DRAFT Clinical Practice Points on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children and Adolescents, NHMRC, October, page 15.

[2] DRAFT Clinical Practice Points on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children and Adolescents, NHMRC, October, pages 7, 12.

[3] DRAFT Clinical Practice Points on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children and Adolescents, NHMRC, October, page 4.

[4] DRAFT Clinical Practice Points on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children and Adolescents, NHMRC, October, page 16.

[5] http://www.med.monash.edu.au/spppm/research/devpsych/srp.html

[6] http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/adhd-conflicts-interest

[7] http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/adhd-conflicts-interest

[8] DRAFT Clinical Practice Points on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children and Adolescents, NHMRC, October, page 20.

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