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B.C. docs call for better ADHD coverage

By Stefania Seccia



B.C. doctors are challenging the province to fully cover a wide range of treatments for those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

BC PharmaCare only fully covers Ritalin and Dexedrine medications for ADHD. Concerta is the only long-acting medication covered, but it’s restricted to “Special Authority Request,” which means it’s solely available for the pediatric population and after failing Ritalin or Dexedrine.

ADHD impacts one to two children in every Canadian classroom and is often diagnosed when a child is between six and 12 years old. It’s a condition in which a person has trouble paying attention, focusing on tasks, and sitting still.

While treatment should always be multi-modal, medication is considered an important component for both children and adults. Like many other conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all scenario, according to the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance and Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada. The two groups are working in conjunction with doctors across the province.

Long-acting medications are better tolerated, with fewer side effects, less abuse potential and improved adherence, and the most widely prescribed, according to Heidi Bernhardt, executive director of the centre.

“We along with physicians in B.C. have been chatting with the powers that be about this issue for over a year now,” she said. “Right now, pretty much most of the other provinces cover a variety of long-acting medications.”

Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, two others who don’t currently offer the wide-range of coverage, are working on new policies, Bernhardt said.

“We feel that patient care is substandard for people who are receiving medication for ADHD in PharmaCare in B.C.,” she added.

In an emailed statement, the Ministry of Health said it was open to discussing PharmaCare coverage for ADHD with both groups directly.

PharmaCare can cover other ADHD drugs not on the usual formulary as well, according to the ministry.

“PharmaCare is currently reviewing its coverage of ADHD drugs, as part of a process called a therapeutic review,” the statement reads. “The review will look at the overall evidence about the drugs.

“As with all decisions about what PharmaCare covers, we must base any changes on both the evidence of safety and efficacy, and the cost to the overall health-care system.”