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First Results Of European Survey Show Significant Impact Of ADHD At School And Home, Yet Parents Wait Over Two Years For An ADHD Diagnosis

May 28, 2011


First data from survey of over 2,500 respondents demonstrate significantly worse outcomes for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at school and home, when compared to children without ADHD1

Shire plc (LSE: SHP, NASDAQ: SHPGY), the global specialty biopharmaceutical company, today announced the results of a new European survey that found children with ADHD have statistically significant impairments in all aspects of life investigated vs. children without ADHD. Yet, parents take an average of 26.8 months to achieve a diagnosis for their child.  Data included a notable impairment on achievement at school* – children with ADHD had significantly more school days missed and were more frequently ‘bottom of the class’ than those without ADHD. Children with ADHD were also far less likely to be invited to social events or have a good relationship with their siblings.   Conducted in six European countries, this first data explored the areas of patients’ everyday lives that were most impacted by ADHD, as well as understanding the challenges in achieving diagnosis and the potential difference treatment can make to a child’s day to day life.1

“These data fill a gap in ADHD understanding we have been trying to address for some time on the true impact of, and impairment caused by the disorder for children both at home and at school across European countries” said Dr Caci, Chair of the Survey Steering Committee, Hôpitaux Pédiatriques de Nice.  “The survey results hint at the depth of the problem we see in these countries in trying to manage the condition optimally and highlight the pressing need for more work in this area to try and address the significant imbalance in all aspects of life between children affected by ADHD and their non-ADHD classmates and siblings.”

Further data from the survey presented today showed teenagers with ADHD were significantly more likely to have conduct problems like excessive alcohol consumption and getting into fights than those without ADHD, as reported by their parents or caregivers. Frustration with either the number of visits or the number of doctors needed to be seen before a formal diagnosis of ADHD was given was reported by over half of respondents (54%). Over one third (38%) of parents/caregivers needed to see three or more doctors before receiving a diagnosis. However, almost half (46%) of children with ADHD were currently receiving medication with 73% of parents satisfied with that medication – most commonly feeling the medication provided sufficient control of symptoms during the school day but not beyond.1

“It is worrying that parents still have to battle so hard to achieve the diagnosis that may enable them to begin to address some of the problems their children have, and access treatment that could make a real difference to their future. We all know that for a child’s healthy development every year counts, so to see diagnosis take over two years on average highlights the need for better access to ADHD services to get the best package of care for every child and help avoid some of these consequences,” said Myriam Menter, ADHD Europe.

These findings are further supported by a new review of ADHD studies.2 In 281 reviewed scientific papers, ADHD is shown to negatively impact major areas of life, including academic and professional achievement, health, and social behaviour, and is a significant cost to society. 2 Recent research also demonstrates that ADHD has related problems such as low self-esteem, anger outbursts, mood swings, cognitive problems and social and family function3 and is associated with increased delinquency/criminality, criminal acts, and arrests/incarceration.4,5

ADHD also carries an economic burden. Preliminary findings based on 13 US studies calculates that ADHD costs approximately 31.5 billion Euros in childhood and adolescence annually.6


For further information please contact:

Media Emma Overington (Porter Novelli for Shire) mobile
  Kim Pickworth (Porter Novelli for Shire) office

About the Lifetime Impairment Survey1

The European Lifetime Impairment Survey is a survey of adults with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD.  Conducted in 2010, it compares ADHD patients with their peers to assess the lifetime impact of ADHD including impairments at home, at school and work, and in relationships with friends and family.

The Survey was fielded in six countries across Europe: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom.

The results presented are from parents of children with/without ADHD (n=584/n=516*) to questions relating to their child’s experiences at home, at school, and in relationships. For purposes of analysis, the questions were grouped into 7 ‘scales’ and 2 ‘scores’: general impairment scale; school impairment scale; home impairment scale; relationship impairment scale; ADHD symptom scale; comorbid symptom scale; ADHD perceived impact scale; school failure score; conduct problems score.

The objective of the analysis was to establish the degree to which ADHD impacts patients’ everyday lives. The scales were calculated by creating a mean score scale for each respondent who answered at least half of the items and had a score on every applicable scale. The scores were calculated by summing the individual items included. Higher numbers for the scales and scores indicate greater impairment/ more symptoms/ less likely to participate socially.

The second analysis of data presented today focuses on the reported experiences of ADHD diagnosis and treatment in childhood, as reported by the 639 parents of children with ADHD.

The Survey was led by a steering committee of ADHD experts from the countries included in the survey.  Experts from both Ireland and the US also provided counsel. The survey was funded by Shire Pharmaceuticals, as part of its ongoing investment and commitment in the area of ADHD care, with medical writing assistance provided by Fishawack Communications Ltd and statistical research support by Porter Novelli Public Services.

This survey was supported by funding from Shire plc. 

*As reported by parents/caregivers eligible for the scale/score analyses (aged 6 years or above for items relating to school and 13 years and above for conduct problems)


About ADHD

ADHD is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents.7,8 Worldwide prevalence of ADHD is estimated at 5.3 percent.9

ADHD is a psychiatric behavioural disorder that manifests as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.10,11 The exact origin of ADHD is unknown, but scientists speculate the disorder may be caused, in part, by an imbalance of two neurotransmitters, dopamine (DA) and noradrenaline (NA), which are believed to play an important role in the ability to focus and pay attention to tasks.12 Adequate diagnosis requires the use of medical and special psychological, educational and social resources, utilising diagnostic criteria such as Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM-IV-TR) or International Classification of Diseases 10 (ICD-10).10,11

Although there is no “cure” for ADHD, there are accepted treatments that specifically target its symptoms. A multimodal treatment approach that combines medication and behavioural modifications are found to be most effective in managing ADHD.13



Shire’s strategic goal is to become the leading specialty biopharmaceutical company that focuses on meeting the needs of the specialist physician.  Shire focuses its business on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), human genetic therapies (HGT) and gastrointestinal (GI) diseases as well as opportunities in other therapeutic areas to the extent they arise through acquisitions.  Shire’s in-licensing, merger and acquisition efforts are focused on products in specialist markets with strong intellectual property protection and global rights.  Shire believes that a carefully selected and balanced portfolio of products with strategically aligned and relatively small-scale sales forces will deliver strong results.

For further information on Shire, please visit the Company’s website: www.shire.com.



Statements included herein that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties and are subject to change at any time. In the event such risks or uncertainties materialize, the Company’s results could be materially adversely affected. The risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, risks associated with: the inherent uncertainty of research, development, approval, reimbursement, manufacturing and commercialization of the Company’s Specialty Pharmaceutical and Human Genetic Therapies products, as well as the ability to secure and integrate new products for commercialization and/or development; government regulation of the Company’s products; the Company’s ability to manufacture its products in sufficient quantities to meet demand; the impact of competitive therapies on the Company’s products; the Company’s ability to register, maintain and enforce patents and other intellectual property rights relating to its products; the Company’s ability to obtain and maintain government and other third-party reimbursement for its products; and other risks and uncertainties detailed from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.



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2. Shaw M, Caci H, Hodgkins P et al. Review of Studies of ADHD: Long-term outcomes with and without treatment. 2011
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