Turning Attention to ADHD

An Express Scripts Report on U.S. Medication Trends for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD Report

Report Summary

This report contains the latest findings from research conducted by Express Scripts providing an in-depth analysis of the most current trends in the use of medications to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

From an annual sample size of approximately 15 million privately insured individuals ages 0 to 64, the research examined the de-identified pharmacy claims of more than 400,000 individuals who filled at least one prescription for a medication indicated for the treatment of ADHD during the five-year study period. Prevalence, utilization and costs were evaluated from 2008 to 2012, including assessments of trends according to age, gender and geography. Because of the paucity of data on children under four years of age, only findings pertaining to those ages 4 to 64 are included in the report.

Key Findings

  • Use of ADHD medications among Americans rose 35.5% from 2008 to 2012, increasing the number of privately insured individuals on these drug therapies to more than 4.8 million in 2012.
  • Boys ages 12 to 18 are the most prevalent users, with 9.3% of that population on an ADHD drug in 2012, up from 7.9% in 2008.
  • While the number of girls on ADHD medications is less than half that of boys, women outnumber men in their use of these drug therapies.
  • Unlike males, whose numbers significantly decrease after age 18, younger women ages 19 to 25 have higher rates of medication use than girls 4 to 18 years old.
  • In 2012, the highest concentration of ADHD medication use was found in the South, with South Carolina experiencing the highest prevalence of ADHD medication use: 5.0% overall and 14.1% for 12 to 18 year old boys. The lowest rates were seen in the Western region of the U.S.
  • Use of antipsychotic treatments among patients taking ADHD medication is substantially higher compared to non-ADHD medication users, especially in the age 4 to 11 category, where use of antipsychotics was 10 times higher than those not being treated for ADHD in 2012.
  • Despite the high rate of antipsychotic use among those being treated for ADHD, Express Scripts data found that those numbers have actually declined among all age groups since 2009, reversing a significant upward trend that was identified in earlier research.
  • Spending on ADHD medication rose 14.2% in 2012, the greatest increase seen among any traditional drug category; it is forecast to grow nearly 25% by 2015.