Coping With ADD. p.4
CHADD accepts grants from several firms that produce drugs used to treat ADD, including Novartis, manufacturer of Ritalin. In 2000, 8.6% of the group's funding came from pharmaceutical firms, compared to 46% from members' dues. It is not uncommon for researchers or organizations to accept donations from pharmaceutical corporations, says Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Massachussets Medical School in Worcester and CHADD advisory board member, who adds that such donations are ethical as long as they have no strings attached. CHADD publishes guidelines stating, essentially, that the organization will not let donations influence the information it distributes. But that policy has not kept the group from coming under attack.
THE CASE AGAINST CHADD
CHADD has been named as a defendant -- along with Novartis and the American Psychiatric Association -- in class action lawsuits in California, Florida, New Jersey, and Texas. The suits have alleged that ADD was overdiagnosed, Ritalin overprescribed, and parents inadequately warned about the drug's side effects. Charles S. Siegel of Waters & Kraus, LLP, the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Texas, says that the group is accused of acting as "a conduit for promoting the drug."
Last March, a federal judge ended up dismissing the California suit, stating that the plaintiffs had produced no evidence to support their allegations. The ruling seems to have influenced the outcome in other cases. In May, a district court judge dismissed the Texas case, and in June the Florida plaintiffs officially withdrew their complaint.
Ross feels vindicated by these developments. But he remains distressed about continuing attacks on ADD and medication. "We're very concerned that a nationally organized campaign hopes to sew seeds of doubt in the minds of families facing the challenges of ADD," he says. "Some people want to deny the existence of childhood mental disorders, including ADD, and in doing so they deny the science behind treatment options -- which includes stimulant medication."