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Schools Calm - Up to 30% With Drugs
Washington (AP) -- As many as 30% of the children in some elementary schools may be receiving drugs to quiet them down, a government investigator told Congress Monday.
This is a sober estimate I have heard," Dr. Leo E. Hollister, a medical investigator for the Veterans Administration, said in testimony prepared for a Senate subcommittee beginning four days of hearings on government drug-buying practices.
Hollister told the subcommittee that the 30 per cent figure was given him by pediatricians at California's Kaiser Institute. He quoted the pediatricians as saying the drugs were being used on pupils in the Fremont and Walnut Creek Schools in the San Francisco East Bay section.
Hollister declined in an interview to speculate how widespread use of the drugs might be across the country.
But, he said, "we seem to have a plague of hyperkinetic children on our hands."
"This is another instance," he said, "of disease being invented so a drug can be used."
He also said, however, that the increasing use of the drugs in children was a "cop-out for adults" unable to cope with the "vexations" of their children.
"The normal exuberance of childhood now seems to be viewed as pathological," he said. "In any case, large numbers of children are being treated with stimulants -- usually methylpenidate, as amphetamines have a bad name at present -- for questionable disagnosis."
He also said the Defense Department is buying large supplies of the drug methlpenidate. These purchases, he added "undoubtedly. . . reflect a major use in dependent children."
Although the drug was introduced about 14 years ago presumably as a new type of stimulent, he said.
Medical authorities say some drugs which stimulate adults have a reverse effect which helps calm overactive children.