Drug giant to face lawsuit over Ritalin

The Express, May 16, 2000


The first of what could become a barrage of lawsuits over Ritalin, the
controversial medicine prescribed for hyper-active children, has been
launched by American lawyers.

The action seeks unspecified damages against Novartis, the £30billion
Swiss pharmaceutical giant which makes the drug.

Lawyers allege that Novartis failed to adequately warn of Ritalin’s
impact on children’s cardio-vascular and nervous systems.

They have applied for the lawsuit, filed in Texas, to represent
potentially thousands of families who bought the drug.

Novartis said the action was “without merit” and it would fight it

The case could spark similar litigation in the UK, where Ritalin
prescriptions for schoolchildren have leapt from 16,000 a year to about
140,000 in the last five years.Ritalin comes with warnings of potential
side-effects, including anxiety and agitation.

© Express Newspapers, 2000


May 1, 2000


A class action suit for “fraud” and “conspiracy” in over-promoting the
stimulant medication Ritalin (methylphenidate) was filed today in a
Texas court. The suit was brought by the Dallas law firm, Waters and
Kraus, and will be nationwide in scope. Peter R. Breggin, M.D., is the
medical consultant.

Three national organizations are named as defendants: (1) Novartis
(formerly Ciba Geigy), the manufacturer of Ritalin, (2) CHADD (Children
and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), a parents’
organization that is partially funded by drug companies, and (3) the
American Psychiatric Association.

The suit charges that Novartis, CHADD, and the American Psychiatric
Association committed fraud in conspiring to over-promote the diagnosis
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and its treatment with
the stimulant drug, Ritalin.

The allegations state that the drug company “deliberately, intentionally,
and negligently promoted the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and sales of Ritalin
through its promotional literature and through its training of sales
representatives. In so doing, despite knowledge of such problems and/or
adverse reactions,

Defendants willfully failed to address or provide adequate information to
consumers, doctors, and/or schools concerning many significant hazards
of methylphenidate…” The suit also charges the drug company with
“Actively supporting groups such as Defendant CHADD, both financially and with
other means, so that such organizations would promote and support (as a
supposed neutral party) the ever-increasing implementation of the ADD/ADHD
diagnosis as well as directly increasing Ritalin sales.” It further claims
that “Defendant American Psychiatric Association (APA) conspired, colluded and
cooperated with the other Defendants” while taking “financial contributions
Ciba as well as other members of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Although the suit was motivated by concern about the over-medicating of
America’s children, the class action is not restricted to children.
Adults who have purchased Ritalin for children or for themselves in the last
years are potentially eligible to participate in the suit. The suit seeks
compensation for those who paid for Ritalin, regardless of whether or not the
medication caused any harm or damage.

Anyone interested in joining the class action suit, or in obtaining more
information about its legal basis, should contact the attorneys, C.
Andrew Waters and Peter Kraus (phone: 214 357 6244).

Peter R. Breggin, M.D. (phone 301 652 5580), medical consultant to the
suit, may be contacted about background issues concerning Ritalin, ADHD,
Novartis, CHADD and the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Breggin
is the director of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry
and Psychology (ICSPP). However, ICSPP has no role in, and is not a party
to, the class action suit.

Attorneys Waters and Kraus, and Dr. Breggin, are planning a press
conference for late in May after the charges have been reviewed by the

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