I found this update from the Medscape educational website to be a real surprise. A 300% increase in ADHD medications prescribed to adult females? What could account for that?

The CDC’s concern, of course, is for the possible impact on pregnancies, about half of which are unplanned. That means many women will have already been on ADHD medications during the all-important early stage. There’s a potential for complications, even spontaneous abortion or birth defects.

Turns out that claims by females to private insurance companies for ADHD medications jumped hundreds of percent between 2003- 2015. The biggest increase was among women aged 25-34. Why? Good question.

By the way, the drugs involved in the review included Adderall, described as ‘mixed amphetamine salts’; Vyvanse; and various forms of methylphenidate, best known as Ritalin. These aren’t drugs that we ordinarily associate with female patients age 25 and up.

The article doesn’t explain why the adults were prescribed these medications. I can only think of a few possible reasons:

  • A sudden epidemic of adult ADHD among females
  • Prescribers who use Adderall, etc., for off-label uses, such as for depression.
  • Prescribers unaware of the possible risks to this population.

If you work in addictions, you’re no doubt aware that these are popular drugs of abuse among young adults, often beginning in college or grad school. That’s due to their stimulant qualities. Perhaps one student has a prescription for personal use and decides to divert some of it to sales. Once a market is built on campus, it can be sustained with illicit supplies of the same drugs. Or homemade lookalikes.

Another thing to watch for, I guess. By the way, I appreciate the notice that there was no drug company funding involved in this study. Good on ya, folks.