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Worried About Message, E.D. Halts Video Distribution

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The Department of Education said last week that it will stop distributing a video on attention-deficit disorder as part of its ADD public-awareness campaign. The video fails to represent the department's position that medication alone may not be the most appropriate treatment for the disorder, officials said.

The 32-minute video, produced by an independent production company, features board members of the advocacy group Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders.

In the video, the CHADD board members praise the effectiveness of Ritalin, the brand-name version of the drug methylphenidate, and the most commonly prescribed drug for ADD.

"After reviewing the films more carefully, we felt that the video did not effectively communicate our message," Kathryn S. Kahler, the communications director for the Education Department, said last week.

"Some people watching the video could get the impression that medication alone was the best treatment, and we are saying there are many treatments for ADD," she said.

The "Merrow Report"

The disorder, which is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and an inability to concentrate, affects 3 percent to 10 percent of school-age children.

The Education Department's decision to stop distributing the video came soon after a public-television program raised questions about the financial relationship between CHADD and the drug company Ciba-Geigy Corp., which makes Ritalin. (See Education Week, Oct. 18, 1995.)

The edition of "The Merrow Report" that began airing on PBS channels late last month noted that, since 1989, CHADD has received about $818,000 in education grants from the New Jersey-based drug company.

Some parents featured in the documentary report, titled "Attention-Deficit Disorder: A Dubious Diagnosis?," said they were concerned that the support group was receiving donations from the drug company.

But officials of both CHADD and Ciba-Geigy have defended their relationship, saying that drug companies are often provide financial support to such groups.

Jeffrey R. Rosenberg, a spokesman for CHADD, said last week that his group does not advocate any specific treatment for ADD and was not troubled about the department's decision to revise the video.

"If they feel they can make a video that better reflects what they learned from their scientific research, then that's a good thing," Mr. Rosenberg said.

Written materials accompanying the video--which show the effectiveness of some teaching and behavior strategies for children with ADD--will continue to be distributed to schools and interested groups, the department said.

DEA Petition

Just as the Education Department decided to revise the ADD video, another federal agency leaked a preliminary report on proposals to lift restrictions on the drug used to treat the disorder.

ChADD, along with the American Academy of Neurology, had petitioned the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify methylphenidate, which is now considered a controlled substance for which yearly production quotas are set. The petitioners say the quotas are burdensome for parents who want the drug to treat their children.

Though the dea has made no final recommendations, the report seems to suggest that the agency is reluctant to reclassify the drug.

The report also questions why CHADD initially filed the drug-reclassification petition. "It is unclear why CHADD, purportedly an advocacy group, is suggesting a lessening of controls on [methylphenidate] when every indicator available, including scientific studies, urge greater caution," the report says.

Mr. Rosenberg of CHADD said that his group hopes that the government ultimately decides to grant the petition because it would make obtaining the drug less costly for parents by allowing them to obtain refills of the medication without a doctor's visit.

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