cqcThe use of drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has increased by 50% in the past 6 years, according to figures from care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Prescriptions for methylphenidate drugs, such as Ritalin, rose from 420,000 in 2007 to 657,000 in 2012, the CQC reported. This increase was across the public and private sector. Year-on-year, prescriptions increased by more than 60,000.

Methylphenidate is also commonly prescribed privately, increasing by 24% in 2012 to 4,835. The CQC believes that this is probably due to an increase in the diagnosis of, and prescribing for, adult ADHD in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance.

However, the CQC added that, due to methylphenidate drugs potential for diversion and misuse, “its use should also be monitored carefully.”

Overall in 2012, the total number of controlled drugs items prescribed in NHS primary care was 47,308,286 – an increase of 1% compared with 2011.

David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said: “As new systems and processes bed in across the NHS it is vital that vigilance is maintained to ensure the safety of patients.

“We’re greatly encouraged by the progress made over the last six years by provider organisations in improving and embedding the systems and processes necessary to ensure controlled drugs are managed safely.”