Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder. Symptoms include hyperactivity, lack of attentiveness, and frivolousness. This disorder always begins in childhood, but can remain through adulthood. ADHD affects all areas of life and limits the quality of life due to its symptoms and the high rate of associated disorders that can develop.
An established form of therapy is using stimulant medications, most commonly, containing Methylphenidate as the active ingredient. However, in Germany this ingredient is not approved for adults suffering from ADHD. Therefore, many adults cannot obtain appropriate medication to treat this disorder.
The following report (Health Technology Assessment [HTA]) examines the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the medical treatment of ADHD in adults as well as the ethical, social and legal aspects thereof.
In August 2009, a systematic literature search is performed in all relevant scientific databases. The selected citations fulfill predetermined inclusion criteria. The data in the publications is then systematically extracted, reviewed and assessed. A manual search of citations is conducted as well.
Nineteen studies fulfill the inclusion criteria: nine randomised controlled studies (RCT), five meta-analyses, three economic studies and two studies relevant to the legal aspects of the HTA.
All RCT reveal that adult patients who receive medication containing a stimulant (Methylphenidate and Amphetamine) and Atomoxetine, see a reduction of ADHD symptoms compared to the placebo-treated patients. The drug response rate among the control group ranges from 7 to 42%; in the treatment group from 17 to 59.6%. The meta-analyses confirm the findings of the RCT.
In light of the control group, it can be ascertained that there are higher annual costs (both direct and indirect) for patients with ADHD. The average annual medical expenses for an adult with ADHD were 1,262 $ in 1998 and 1,673 $ in 2001 (the converted and inflation-adjusted rate for 2009: between 1,270 and 1,619 Euro).
The use of stimulants use may impair the patient’s ability to drive, travel or do sports. No relevant studies can be identified concerning the ethical, social and/or legal aspects of stimulant medication for ADHD patients.
Medical treatment, particularly including Methylphenidate and Atomoxetine, proves to have a positive effect. In order to attain an optimal drug response, dosing must be determined on an individual basis.
There is a need of high-quality studies that directly compare various agents – an aspect which is relevant to medical effectiveness of a therapy. No definite statement can be made about the cost-effectiveness of the medical treatment of ADHD in adults. More health economic studies are therefore required.
Apart from the unquestionable mental indication, it is already recommended by health economic reasons to establish the conditions for an adequate treatment with these medicaments also for adults.