Parents of children with an attention disorder are being warned by experts that a drug used in its treatment may cause an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
New data from clinical trials of Strattera, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), have revealed a small number of children aged from seven to 12 experienced such problems.
The Government agency responsible for checking on the safety of medicines is now looking at the health risks and benefits of the drug, used by children over six years old and adolescents.
However, Dr June Raine, director of medicines post-licensing at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said patients doing well on the drug should not stop using it.
Updated warnings about the risks of suicidal thoughts and behaviour are to be placed on a patient information leaflet for Strattera.
Around 15,000 patients in the UK have used Strattera since it first hit the market in July last year, although Ritalin is still the main drug used to treat the disorder.
The new advice comes after Lilly, the maker of Strattera, submitted further data from clinical trials which compared hundreds of children and teenagers taking the drug with those taking a sugar pill or placebo.
Five cases of a patient having suicidal thoughts were found out of 1,357 taking the drug in the trials, while there was also one suicide attempt where a child took several times the recommended dose.
No suicidal behaviour was found among the 851 people who took a placebo.
ADHD is thought to afflict around 3% to 7% of school-age children and is believed to be a genetic condition which affects those parts of the brain that control attention, impulses and concentration.
©2005 Associated New Media