Between 2000 and 2004, use of drugs that help keep ADHD patients focused doubled among adults aged 20 to 44, but rose only 56 percent among children, according to data compiled by Medco Health Solutions, one of the country's largest prescription benefit managers.
Franklin Lakes-based Medco's study, to be released Thursday, shows use rose 113 percent among women 20 to 44 and 104 percent among women 45 to 64, both far more than among men. Meanwhile, spending on the medicines quadrupled.
Experts say reasons for the surge range from better drugs and advertising, to parents of children newly diagnosed with ADHD realizing they have the same symptoms.
"We're seeing about 1 percent of adults being treated," but four times as many are estimated to have ADHD, Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco's chief medical officer, told The Associated Press.
Nearly 1.5 million Americans 20 and older are using the drugs, Medco said.
Those figures dispel earlier beliefs that children "grow out of the disorder," said Dr. Patricia Quinn, a developmental pediatrician at the National Center for Gender Issues and ADHD, and an adviser to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, an advocacy group.