FDA-backed study finds scant evidence of heart problems from ADHD meds

ADHD drugs have been further cleared of blame for heart risks in people who take the widely used meds. In the largest study of its kind ever, researchers found that there was "little evidence" that taking drugs such as Ritalin increased adults' chances of heart attack, sudden cardiac death or stroke.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at data on more than 150,000 adults aged 25-64 who took ADHD meds. Drugs included in the study were stimulants such as Novartis' ($NVS) Ritalin and Eli Lilly's ($LLY) Strattera, among others. Researchers in the study, which was supported by the FDA and the Agency for Health Research Quality, found that heart risks to patients were similar while they were on the drugs and after treatment with the meds. And there was little evidence that any one ADHD med in the study caused an increase in risk, according to the group's release.

These data are good news for ADHD drug providers such as Shire, Lilly and Novartis. There are more than 4 million U.S. children and adults, mostly children, with prescriptions for ADHD drugs, Reuters reports. The meds have been a key part of companies' CNS drug portfolios. Researchers mounted studies of heart risks of the meds because the drugs, many of which are stimulants, are linked to jumps in blood pressure. But so far the studies have come back without strong links between the meds and heart risks. One of the studies in children had similar results, which were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in November.

Yet this latest study was observational, not a randomized clinical trial, and risk of increased blood pressure remains for these drugs. The lead author of the latest study, Laurel Habel of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, also said in a statement that the study looked at patients who took the drugs for a relatively short period of time, less than a year.

- here's the release
- check out Reuters' article

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