The Malta Independent 23 February 2020, Sunday

ADHD patients to get branded medicine after authorities’ approval

Saturday, 8 June 2019, 09:16 Last update: about 10 months ago

Patients whose request for Branded Medicine Methylphenidate has been favourably considered by the Exceptional Medicine Treatment Committee will be provided with the branded medicine, a Ministry for Health spokesperson said.

Complaints being made about the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of a type of ADHD medicine, were being analysed by the Chief Medicinal Officer in liaison with the Chairperson of Psychiatry from, at least, March of 2019 – specifically with regards to the aforementioned branded medicine Concerta.

This newsroom was told that the medicine in question was out of stock until June, hence the replacement. This was however denied by the Health Ministry, with the ministry’s spokesperson saying that on the part of the government there are no ADHD medicines which are currently out of stock.

Asked about the complaints, the spokesperson said that these were being analysed by the Chief Medicinal Officer in liaison with the Chairperson of Psychiatry since there have not been any scientific reports across the EU to indicate that the medicine was ineffective.

The spokesperson had also added that “all products purchased by the Government are equivalent in terms of bioequivalence and are all licensed for use on the international EU market”.

On Monday, a mother filed a judicial protest over the substitute treatment that made her son go through “alarming and severely negative side effects”, with the judicial protest stating that the authorities were breaching the Convention on the Rights of the Child when they refused to deal with the mother’s complaints and with their continued supply of substitute treatment for ADHD, amongst other things.

ADHD – or rather, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder in children and is characterised by, amongst other things, difficulty in paying attention, excessive activity, and difficulty in controlling behaviour.

Concerta is very much like the (pop-culturally) better-known medication Ritalin, and indeed contains the same active ingredient, although they work in different ways as Concerta is a long-acting drug, and Ritalin is a short-acting drug.


Health Minister in Parliament

Speaking in Parliament last week, Minister for Health Chris Fearne noted that “as that contract (for ADHD medicines) was done, generic medicines were introduced and when there was the new tender it was then won by the generic medicines, and we obviously stopped bringing in branded medicines because they were more expensive, and even by EU directive law, the cheaper medicine would get the tender as long as it is effective”.

“As the tender, in line with the EU directive, was won by the generic medicine, we could not just change medicine immediately.”

Fearne explained that the Chief Medical Officer asked for a report from a foreign expert who did his surveying amongst a number of patients, spoke with specialists, and saw a number of case files before returning the report that week.

“The report recommends that those people who have proven that they had an adverse drug reaction to the generic medicine, and passed through the committee that agreed with their examination, then the recommendation was that the Government can buy the branded medicine and give it to these patients.”


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