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Amazon.com pushing ADHD drugs with front-page, celebrity-endorsed "Amazon survey"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: ADHD, direct-to-consumer advertising, Amazon.com

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A recent ad published on the home page of Amazon.com promotes the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Adderall. With celebrity Ty Pennington's face prominently displayed, the ad invites visitors to take an "Amazon.com survey" before following the link to distributor Shire Pharmaceuticals' ADHD question page. The ad, which promotes an amphetamine drug to children, has some questioning the ethics of Amazon.com. Click here to view a cached copy of the ad.

The condition known as ADHD is usually diagnosed in children who have trouble focusing, are hyperactive, and who have trouble making or maintaining social interactions. Health advocate Mike Adams notes that there is a laundry list of symptoms that are often diagnosed as ADHD, with little or no consideration of other possible causes.

Adams has written a number of NewsTarget articles explaining how ADHD is a made-up name used to make a group of relatively normal conditions seem like a drug-treatable disease, and how giving your child proper nutrition and avoiding things like the refined sugars in soft drinks and processed grains can help overcome many ADHD "symptoms."

Since Adams has been a proponent of Amazon.com's level of customer service in the past, he was particularly disappointed that Amazon.com would associate its name with a prescription medication such as Adderall.

"The children in our society are already overmedicated with mind-altering amphetamines," he said. "Now Amazon.com wants even more children to take ADHD drugs? The company should be ashamed of its actions."

Gary Ruskin, executive director and co-founder of Commercial Alert, opposes direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising since the average consumer is not qualified to judge their need for a dangerous prescription medication. Studies also show most doctors will prescribe whatever their patients ask for over half the time.

"There is nothing informational about this ad," Ruskin said. "It's just a picture of Ty Pennington. It provides no knowledge, just an emotional plea to people to use a drug that has many serious problems."

Fans of "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" are probably familiar with former fashion model Pennington's excitable antics on the show, but some may not be aware that the Georgia native was diagnosed with ADHD during high school. A click of the ad tells his story of overcoming ADHD with the help of Adderall.

What is mentioned in the small print and found in an inconspicuous area of the website (and, depending on which one you are exposed to, sometimes in the ad itself), is the multitude of harmful side effects associated with Adderall. Since it is an amphetamine, the medicine carries some risk of dependency, but that might be considered tip of the proverbial iceberg. The web site also lists side effects in children such as decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, stomachache and "emotional lability;" medical jargon for pathological laughing, smiling or crying. Some adolescents have been shown to experience loss of appetite, sleep problems, stomachache and weight loss, while adults may experience the same problems along with dry mouth and headaches.

"Prescription drugs are different from other products," noted Ruskin. "Even when used properly they can cause illness. (Adderall) even has a black box warning," Ruskin added, referring to the FDA's most serious warning label for side effects of prescription medication.

Adderall is not alone in its class of harmful ADHD drugs. Similar medications have also been tied to serious adverse reactions, including 25 deaths from cardiac complications in the case of ADHD drug Ritalin, leading the FDA to give it a black box warning in August.

Despite the reports of people falling victim to ADHD drugs' side effects, the medication continues to grow in use. Adams sent out a call for the public to stand against the online retailer's promotion of drugs for this "fictitious disease."

"I urge all Amazon.com customers to contact Amazon's customer service department and let them know we don't want to see promotional material on prescription drugs when we're shopping for books," he said. "This practice is a frightening new low for Amazon.com, and it reveals the company's complete lack of ethics when it comes to generating profits.

"This promotion of ADHD drugs is a surprising new low for Amazon.com, a company that should stick to selling books and DVDs and stop promoting amphetamines to children."

As of press time, a request to Amazon.com for a statement about the ad -- which shows up almost every time the home page is visited -- was not answered.

To read Mike Adams interview with ADHD fraud expert Dr. Fred Baughman, creator of ADHDFraud.org, click here.


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