Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Clinical Review

Neurogenetic determinism and the new euphenics

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 19 December 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1707

Rapid Response:

Reply to Justin Williams

I thank Dr Williams for the invitation to visit his department; in
I have had the privilege of working with members of a local ADHD
self-help group here in Milton Keynes over the past year, and am only
too conscious of the complexity of the social, educational and
developmental situations within which methylphenidate is being
prescribed. But Dr Williams protests too much. In neither of the
references he quotes do I make the crude claim that the economic
interests of pharmaceutical companies explain the rise in
methylphenidate prescriptions.The reasons are much more complex than
such vulgar determinism would imply. Nor do I claim that ADHD diagnosis
and the use of methylphenidate are novel, or deny that there are
circumstances in which drug treatment might be helpful . However ADHD
diagnosis and methylphenidate prescribing are both increasing in the
UK, and are at such epidemic levels in the US as to have occasioned
government warnings. It is as naive to suggest that this rapid increase
is due to the rise of an academic discipline as it is to imply that a
new gene mutation is the cause.

Steven Rose

Director, Brain and Behaviour Research Group and Professor of
The Open University,
Milton Keynes MK7 6 AA,

Competing interests: No competing interests

13 January 1999
Steven P R Rose
Brain and Behaviour Research Group, Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA