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Drugs: Children

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are in place to ensure that children younger than six years are not prescribed methylphenidate drugs. (147886)

There are no specific measures in place to ensure that children younger than six years are not prescribed methylphenidate drugs.

Methylphenidate is licensed only for children over six years of age as part of a comprehensive treatment programme for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder where remedial measures alone prove insufficient. Drug treatment for ADHD should only be initiated by an appropriately qualified health professional with expertise in ADHD and should be based on a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. Continued prescribing and monitoring of drug treatment may be performed by general practitioners, under shared care arrangements.

A medical practitioner may, however, prescribe methylphenidate to children younger than six years (prescribing a licensed medicine for an unlicensed use, so called ‘off-label prescribing’). Medical practitioners are ultimately responsible for all their prescribing decisions. They should always satisfy themselves that all drugs or other substances they consider appropriate for their patients can be safely prescribed, that patients are adequately monitored and that, where necessary, expert hospital supervision is available.