Changes in ADHD medication provided by the government were having a detrimental effect on children and adults, psychiatrists warned.
The government, however, insisted it supplied high-quality generic medicine and has commissioned an independent study to look into a number of cases.
ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children, affecting one in 20, usually manifested in hyperactivity, poor concentration and impulsivity from an early age.
Medication available worldwide allows 95 per cent of children to be treated with one form of medicine or another, however, patients in Malta are struggling.
While the variety available abroad was not provided here, a recent swapping of a medicine with a cheaper one resulted in regress among some sufferers, the Times of Malta was told.
A long-term effect medicine called Concerta (Methylphenidate) was recently replaced by Xenidate.
Although in laboratory conditions they seemed similar, in practice, their release and effect was different, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Nigel Camilleri said.
This was either having no effect on children or only did so immediately and was short-lasting, affecting their sleeping patterns, he added.
Parents cannot even buy Concerta from pharmacies
Dr Camilleri is aware that the medication is used in some countries but notes that it has also been pulled off the shelves because of the consequences already mentioned.
The Maltese Association of Psychiatry appealed to the Health Ministry to reintroduce Concerta and, as a psychiatrist, Dr Camilleri said he received complaints from patients on a daily basis.
“People from all walks of life, including those in managerial positions, are struggling, with one particular person at risk of losing her job since medication changed in January. Parents are, meanwhile, in tears as they cannot even buy Concerta from pharmacies because it is no longer being imported,” he remarked.
Psychiatrists and people suffering from ADHD in Malta can only find treatment that works within three to four hours – Ritalin (also Methylphenidate) – or 12 hours (Xenidate).
There is no in-between medication that lasts for eight hours, such as Medikinet (Methylphenidate).
When contacted, a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry said the government was supplying high-quality generic alternatives and “there has been no proven adverse reactions to such treatment being provided in the rest of the EU”.
Still, the Health Ministry commissioned an independent study, with the support of international expertise in ADHD treatment on the international market, to look into the cases of those who requested in writing to continue using the branded instead of the generic medicine, she said.
The results of the study were imminent and the Health Department would be acting on the re-commendations of the expert report, the spokeswoman added.