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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
October 20, 1995


 Methylphenidate (MPH), most commonly known as Ritalin, ranks in the top 10 most frequently reported controlled pharmaceuticals stolen from licensed handlers.

 Abuse of MPH can lead to marked tolerance and severe psychic dependence.

 Organized drug trafficking groups in a number of states have utilized various schemes to obtain MPH for resale on the illicit market.

 MPH is abused by diverse segments of the population, from health care professions and children to street addicts.

 A significant number of children and adolescents are diverting or abusing MPH medication intended for the treatment of ADHD.

 In 1994, a national high school survey (Monitoring the Future) indicated that more seniors in the U.S. abuse Ritalin than are prescribed Ritalin legitimately.

 Students are giving and selling their medication to classmates who are crushing and snorting the powder like cocaine. In March of 1995, two deaths in Mississippi and Virginia were associated with this activity.

 DAWN statistics on estimated emergency room mentions indicate that there were 271 mentions in 1990, 657 mentions in 1991, 1,044 mentions in 1992, and 725 in 1993 (of which 28% to 40% were associated with abuse for dependence or psychological effects). The number of mentions for MPH was significantly greater than mentions for Schedule III stimulants (6 mentions in 1992 and 1 mention in 1993 for all Schedule III stimulants).

 The U.S. manufactures and consumes 5-times more MPH than the rest of the world combined.

 MPH aggregate production quota has increased almost 6-fold since 1990.

 Every indicator available, including scientific abuse liability studies, actual abuse, paucity of scientific studies on possible adverse effects associated with long-term use of stimulants, divergent prescribing practices of U.S. physicians, and lack of concurrent medical treatment and follow-up, urge greater caution and more restrictive use of MPH.
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