Like so many other Big Pharma players, Janssen pulls out all the stops in its marketing efforts when it comes to Concerta. One of the big selling points of Concerta and other ADHD medication is it helps kids in getting better grades in school and completing their homework assignments. But does it, really?

Not necessarily. A recent study involving 75 children indicates that such medications are less effective than good old fashioned behavioral intervention. Such interventions include daily progress reports and greater direct parental involvement with the child and his/her schoolwork.

The study was conducted at Florida International University’s Center for Children and Families in Miami. According doctoral student Brittany Merrill, who was the study’s lead author, “Long-acting stimulant medications haven’t been shown to help with homework performance despite companies advertising their utility for homework time.”

The research team’s findings are based on teacher and parent observation of children aged 5 to 12 years who were diagnosed with ADHD and had no other issues (such as autism or health problems). The subjects were divided into two groups. For the first three weeks, one group received stimulants while the other children were given behavioral therapy. They were then switched for the last three weeks of the study.

Conclusion: ADHD stimulant medications such as Concerta had no appreciable impact on the quality or completion of homework assignments. However, the children who received behavioral therapy did ten to thirteen percent better on their assignments. Merrill advises parents to “begin by setting up a more consistent homework routine on their own and praising their child’s appropriate behaviors and ignoring mildly annoying behaviors.” She also recommends that parents work with their child’s classroom teacher in order to make certain that the child has all required materials and they know what is expected of them.

Unfortunately, too many parents have abdicated this responsibility. Instead, they listen to Big Pharma companies like Janssen, who offer them a simple solution in the form of an easily administered pill. The problem has been that such medications come with serious side effects that include the risk of strokes and heart problems – not to mention psychosis and suicidal thoughts. Now, thanks to the recent FIU study, we now have evidence that the medications are not only dangerous, they’re in all likelihood useless as well.

SHARE
K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.