ADHD drugs linked to suicidal thoughts

Depending on the province you live in, your pharmacist can prescribe or take away medication, order and interpret lab tests and vaccinate patients. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

OTTAWA – Health Canada says stronger warnings about the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours are being added to prescribing information for all drugs used to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

The warnings follow reports of suicide-related events in patients taking ADHD medications, such as thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts and, in a small number of cases, completed suicide.

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An increased risk of suicide ideation and suicidal behaviour was identified with the use of the drug Strattera in 2005, but emerging information suggests the risk may apply to all other ADHD drugs.

Brand-name and generic ADHD drugs prescribed in Canada include Adderall XR; Biphentin; Concerta; Dexedrine; Intuniv XR; Ritalin and Ritalin SR; Strattera; and Vyvanse.

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Health Canada believes the benefits of these drugs in managing ADHD continue to outweigh their risks, but emphasizes that patients’ moods, behaviours, thoughts and emotions need to be monitored.

Patients taking an ADHD medication should immediately report any suicidal thoughts to their doctor — even after ADHD therapy has been stopped.

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