Impact of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on prescription dug spending for children and adolescents: increasing relevance of health economic evidence

Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2007 Nov 15;1(1):13. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-1-13.


Background: During the last decade, pharmaceutical spending for patients with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been escalating internationally.

Objectives: First, to estimate future trends of ADHD-related drug expenditures from the perspectives of the statutory health insurance (SHI; Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV) in Germany and the National Health Service (NHS) in England, respectively, for children and adolescents age 6 to 18 years. Second, to evaluate the budgetary impact on individual prescribers (child and adolescent psychiatrists and pediatricians treating patients with ADHD) in Germany.

Methods: A model was developed to predict plausible scenarios of future pharmaceutical expenditures for treatment of ADHD. Model inputs were derived from demographic and epidemiological data, a literature review of past spending trends, and an analysis of new pharmaceutical products in development for ADHD. Only products in clinical development phase III or later were considered. Uncertainty was addressed by way of scenario analysis. For each jurisdiction, five scenarios used different assumptions of future diagnosis prevalence, treatment prevalence, rates of adoption and unit costs of novel drugs, and treatment intensity.

Results: Annual ADHD pharmacotherapy expenditures for children and adolescents will further increase and may exceed euro 310 m (D; E: 78 m) in 2012 (2002: approximately euro 21.8 m; approximately 7.0 m). During this period, overall drug spending by individual physicians may increase 2.3- to 9.5-fold, resulting from the multiplicative effects of four variables: increased number of diagnosed cases, growing acceptance and intensity of pharmacotherapy, and higher unit costs of novel medications.

Discussion: Even for an extreme low case scenario, a more than six-fold increase of pharmaceutical spending for children and adolescents is predicted over the decade from 2002 to 2012, from the perspectives of both the NHS in England and the GKV in Germany. This budgetary impact projection represents a partial analysis only because other expenditures are likely to rise as well, for instance those associated with physician services, including diagnosis and psychosocial treatment. Further to this, by definition budgetary impact analyses have little to nothing to say about clinical appropriateness and about value of money.

Conclusion: Providers of care for children and adolescents with ADHD should anticipate serious challenges related to the cost-effectiveness of interventions.