Potential Explanations for Increasing Methylphenidate Use in Children and Adolescents With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Germany From 2004 to 2013

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Despite a decreasing population of children and adolescents, the cumulative total amount of dispensed methylphenidate (MPH), the first-choice treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in this age group, has increased dramatically in Germany. We investigated potential reasons for this increase such as changes in the ADHD prevalence over time and other potential explanations including the cumulative amount of dispensed MPH per person.


Based on German claims data, we calculated standardized annual ADHD prevalence rates, proportions of ADHD cases treated with MPH and/or psychotherapy, and mean cumulative defined daily doses of ADHD drugs for 3- to 17-year-old children and adolescents from 2004 to 2013.


The ADHD prevalence increased continuously from 2004 to 2011 and remained stable thereafter. In ADHD cases, there was little variation in the proportion of individuals treated with drugs and in the frequency of psychotherapeutic treatment during the whole study period. The annual cumulative mean amount of MPH defined daily doses increased by approximately 30% from 2004 to 2008.


Our analyses suggest that the increase in MPH use in Germany was mainly influenced by an increasing ADHD prevalence and increasing amounts of dispensed MPH per person.

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