The Herald Bulletin

December 18, 2013

Viewpoint: An open letter to our school board and parents

By Bill Nagengast
Anderson resident

---- — The Dec. 15, 2013, Sunday edition of The New York Times had a front page article about the overuse of prescription drugs as treatment for severely hyperactive and impulsive children, often called ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). It was noted that the use of these drugs has soared as the result of a 20-year drug marketing campaign to the point where the sales of these drugs has quadrupled in the past 10 years. These rising rates of "diagnosis" are being questioned, and one ADD specialist, Dr. Conners, a psychologist and professor Emeritus at Duke University, refers to this as "a national disaster of dangerous proportions."

Why is this happening? This drug use is the result of a remarkably successful two-decade sales campaign by pharmaceutical companies to promote these drugs to doctors, educators and parents. But do over 3.5 million of our children need these drugs? The drug salesmen say so. But data shows that students with even minimal symptoms are being railroaded by the millions onto drugs that they don't really need. Dr. Conners stated, "The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it's not. It's preposterous."

I look at the steeply rising graph of our drugged children — many that are often the brightest and most gifted — and I look at the declining statistics of our students' continued drop in educational performance and I ask myself, "Are these drugs a big part of the problems in our school system?"

To our school board members I ask, "How many of our students are being drugged every day, that don't need it? Are these ADD drugs being over-prescribed in our schools with questionable diagnosis? Are these drugs a major part of your problems?"

To our parents I say, "Don't let your children be swept along by drug company sales campaigns. Make sure you see a qualified medical professional for advice before agreeing to drug your children."

Everyone knows that drugs don't belong in our schools ... but I'd always thought the enemy was the drug dealer out on the street. With over $9 billion last year in drug sales of stimulants for our children, I've changed my mind.