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Prevalence and patterns of methylphenidate use in French children and adolescents



The aim of the study was to describe the prevalence and utilization patterns of methylphenidate (MPH) in children and adolescents in France.


This was a population-based retrospective study in which the cohort consisted of patients for whom data were extracted from the dispensation drug claims database of the national health insurance (NHI) fund for self-employed workers. Annual prevalence of MPH use was evaluated on patients aged 6–18 years who were reimbursed for at least one MPH prescription a year. Between January 2004 and June 2005, features of MPH medication and user profile were described for the “new starters” having a screening period of 1 year without receiving a MPH prescription and a follow-up ≥12 months. Time to interruption of MPH regular use was analysed by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Mean duration of exposure to MPH treatment was computed with the 95% confidence interval (CI).


Annual prevalence of MPH per 1000 persons was 1.1 in 2003, 1.5 in 2004 and 1.8 in 2005 (relative increase of 63.5%). New starters (n = 447) received their first MPH prescription through the hospital (65.1%) or through private practitioners (34.9%). The user profiles were: short (16.6%), occasional (33.8%) and regular (49.6%). Among the new starters, the median time to interruption of MPH regular use was 10.2 months (95% CI: 7.9–12.4). The mean duration of exposure to MPH treatment was: occasional (4.9 months, 95% CI: 4.3–5.5) and regular (25.7 months, 95% CI: 24.6–26.8).


Although there is a low prevalence of MPH use in France, this survey revealed a wide profile of users and heterogeneous use patterns.

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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder




National health insurance


Régime social des indépendants


Summary of product characteristics


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This study was supported by the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) within the independent drug research program, contract no. FARM5AJL82. Thanks to Romano Arcieri (National Institute of Health, Italy), Maurizio Bonati (Mario Negri Pharmacological Research Institute, Italy) and Catherine Billard (Kremlin Bicètre Hospital, France) for reviewing the manuscript, to Ernesto Costabile (National Institute of Health, Italy) for support in the literature review, to Maria Grazia Caparra (external consultant) for English revision.

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Correspondence to Anne-Laure Knellwolf.

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Knellwolf, AL., Deligne, J., Chiarotti, F. et al. Prevalence and patterns of methylphenidate use in French children and adolescents. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 64, 311–317 (2008).

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  • Children
  • France
  • Methylphenidate
  • Therapeutic uses