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U.K. ADHD Guidelines Aim to Improve ‘Patchy’ Treatment

July 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s health-cost regulator set standards for the diagnosis and treatment of attention deficit disorder to improve the “patchy” care offered by the state-run medical system.

To be diagnosed accurately, Symptoms should be “pervasive” among different settings and linked to “moderate or severe psychological, social, educational or occupational impairment,” the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or NICE, said today in a statement.

Anyone taking drugs for ADHD should be assessed once a year by a specialist to check dosing and response, under the guidelines. NICE also recommended that parents of children with the disorder attend training to cope with related behavior. NICE, which advises the National Health Service on getting medical value for money, said the guidelines will help eliminate treatment inconsistencies.

“Doctors around the whole of England can now refer to this document and say, ‘This is what I need to deliver,’” NICE spokeswoman Shalu Kanal said by phone in London.

ADHD, which causes hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention, is the most common behavioral disorder in the U.K., affecting as many as 9 percent of school-age children and young people, according to the agency. While the cause of ADHD is unknown, a combination of environmental and genetic factors have been singled out by some researchers as possible contributors.

Sleep Problems

Clinical services are only just being developed in some parts of the U.K., and long delays in diagnosing are a particular problem, according to the statement. The disorder is linked to drug abuse and an increased likelihood of criminal convictions in adulthood, as well as higher rates of anxiety, depression and sleep problems, it said.

Medicines for ADHD available in the country include Johnson & Johnson’s Concerta, Eli Lilly & Co.’s Strattera and Shire Plc’s Elvanse, which is known in the U.S. as Vyvanse. Treatments also include parent and child education, behavior management and counseling.

“Although highly effective treatments exist that can change lives, ADHD can go unrecognized and untreated, and provision of specialist services, particularly for adults, remains very patchy,” Chris Hollis, professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, at the University of Nottingham, said in the statement. The document “represents a real advance by setting a benchmark for improved recognition, diagnosis and delivery of evidence-based treatments.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Trista Kelley in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at

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