Concerta XL, which is the brand name of a slow release from of methylphenidate (sometime known as Ritalin), has finally been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency for use in adults. This both a big step forward, and paradoxically a tiny step forward at the same time (but at least it is a step forward).
Until now, officially no drug has been specifically licensed for adults. It is only licensed for use in adults who were diagnosed with, and treated successfully for, ADHD between the ages of 12 and 18. Thus it is of no help to the vast majority of adults with ADHD who are only just discovering what has been holding them back all their lives. We are very pleased, however, that no longer is there an excuse for ceasing to give a successful treatment to teenagers just because they are approaching 18 (or 16 in some cases).
The other side of this is that the whole license and prescription arrangement is rather Byzantine and in fact doctors can prescribe ADHD medications for adults anyway. After all, if you can give something safely to a child of six, an adult is probably going to be pretty safe. Indeed, the NICE guidelines on the topic says doctors should prescribe the meds when necessary. So the new rules on Concerta don’t actually make much difference. The do mean that change is slowly taking place and very slowly – agonisingly slowly – adult ADHD is being recognised by officialdom.