In its Recommendation 1562 (2002) on “Controlling the diagnosis and treatment of hyperactive children in Europe”, the Parliamentary Assembly expressed a concern that an increasing number of children are being diagnosed as suffering from “attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder” (ADHD) or related behavioural conditions. Now the matter is even more widespread and problematic today.
The Assembly notes that the Recommendation laid out that the controversy surrounding ADHD hinges not only on whether it may validly be described as an abnormality or disease, but above all on whether it is justified to treat children with such symptoms with psychostimulants. And that long-term effects of these drugs have never been proven and that they cannot effect a cure.
The Assembly is alarmed that this concern had not been appropriately dealt with by the Committee of Ministers which at the time acted on misleading information from psychiatrists who since have been found to have vested interests with the pharmaceutical industry.
The Assembly observes that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, in reviewing the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in a number of European countries in recent years, has expressed a serious concern of the misdiagnosing with ADHD and subsequent use of psychostimulant drugs occurring.
It also observes that in several member States methods have been developed that successfully help children with attention or behavioural problems with non-drug means, but that these are not widely known.
The Assembly recommends that research into the causes and actual remedies of the symptoms labelled as ADHD be done so as to improve diagnostic methods and criteria and identify appropriate treatments. The Assembly, in co-operation with the Pompidou Group, also intends to update the by now outdated report and recommendation of 1999.