ADHD: utilisation analysis

Page last updated: 30 October 2015

Drug utilisation sub-committee (DUSC)

June 2015



To review the utilisation of PBS-listed medicines used in the management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Data Source / methodology

This analysis used three data sources: DUSC database, Medicare pharmacy claim data and Medicare Australia authority approvals data.

Key Findings

Over the five year period 2010-2014:

  • The number of patients treated with PBS medicines for ADHD has risen steadily, with an annual increase of 5-8%, and 5 year growth of 31%.
  •  Similarly the number of prescriptions and PBS expenditure has also increased steadily.
  • The most commonly used medicine is methylphenidate. The majority of prescriptions supplied for methylphenidate are as the modified release forms.
  • Adults represent a slightly higher proportion of people treated over time, but do not constitute a higher proportion of people new to treatment.
  • More males than females are treated, although the ratio is decreasing over time.

A snapshot of medicine use in 2014 shows that:

  •  The majority of prescriptions are written by a specialist, usually a paediatrician or psychiatrist. Most Australian states and territories restrict the prescribing of methylphenidate and dexamphetamine for the treatment of ADHD to specialist medical prescribers.
  •  Over 875,000 prescriptions were dispensed at a cost to the PBS of approximately $30 million.
  • Rates of prescribing vary across states and territories. The rates of treatment in school-aged children are highest in the ACT, NSW and Queensland. Rates of treatment in adults are highest in Western Australia.
  • 117,403 people were granted authority approval for a PBS medicine for ADHD.  Of these:
    • 32% were adults, 22% were adolescents, 43% were children aged 6-12 years and 2% were children under the age of 6.
    • 24,232 started an ADHD medicine for the first time. The majority of people commence treatment with an immediate release product, most commonly methylphenidate.

Full Report