One of the debates over the whether ADHD is over-diagnosed is the relationship between the increasing diagnosis and the profit the pharmaceutical companies are making from the medications being prescribed to treat the disorder.
Several years ago, a law firm, Waters and Kraus filed three class action lawsuits, on behalf of the Church of Scientology, claiming Novartis Pharmaceutical Company and Ciba-Gigy Corporation (the predecessor of Novartis), “planned, conspired and colluded to create, develop and promote the diagnosis of Deficit Disorder to increase the market for its product Ritalin.” Ritalin, or methylphenidate, is a commonly prescribed stimulant medication for ADHD.
In addition to naming the pharmaceutical companies, the lawsuit contended that CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) conspired with the drug company and the American Psychiatric Association broadened symptoms of ADHD to create a larger market for Ritalin.
Dr. Peter Breggin, a neurologist, was a lead witness in one of the cases. He indicated that ADHD medications were a “gateway to illicit drugs” and that ADHD was a fraud. When a case in California was dismissed, Dr. Breggin insinuated the court was owned by pro-drugging, pro-psychiatry forces.
Dr. Fred Baughman was also a witness in the cases. Dr. Baughman has been cited by the Church of Scientology as an “expert witness.” However, the Church of Scientology has been quoted as saying the purpose of the lawsuits was “not to win” but to “harass.”
The lawsuits were all dismissed with prejudice. The suit filed in California was thrown out in part because it was an attempt to use the court for a political agenda.
Other lawsuits were instituted in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey and Georgia (the Church of Scientology was not involved in these suits) alleging that the medical profession promoted ADHD medications.
All of the lawsuits have failed in their attempts to undermine the medical diagnosis of ADHD. No evidence supporting the theory that pharmaceutical companies encourage the diagnosis of ADHD to increase profits or that ADHD is a non-existent disorder have been proven. In the years since the lawsuits, a great deal of research has shown ADHD to be a valid disorder that can cause impairment, not only in children but also throughout adulthood.