Therapeutic Uses

Methamphetamine hydrochloride has been marketed as a prescription drug for quite some time. The drug is marketed as Desoxyn by Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago, IL. The primary use of the drug is for the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) with Hyperactivity and for the treatment of Exogenous Obesity. In the case of obesity, the drug was only to be used for a short period of time in a more complete weight control program. The drug is prescribed in tablet form and is administered orally. For ADD the suggested dose starts at 5-10 mg/day and can be increased to a dose of 20-25 mg/day given at two periods during the day. For obesity, one 5 mg tablet should be taken 30 minutes before every meal and treatment should not last longer than a few weeks. In a child of 6 years of age, the dose from a 5 mg tablet would be approximately 0.23 mg/kg-day assuming a 100% bioavailability and 0.15 mg/kg-day assuming a 67% bioavailability. Children under 6 should not be treated for ADD using this drug and children under 12 should not be treated for obesity using this drug.(6)

Although it is sometimes assumed that the use of prescription drugs is "safe" almost all prescription drugs have side-effects that need to be considered by a physician prior to prescribing the drug to a patient. In the case of Desoxyn, a number of concerns are noted: (6) The drug needs to be used with caution in patients with even mild hypertension.

  • The amount of drug taken should be the smallest amount possible in order to eliminate the possibility of over dosage.
  • Data regarding the long-term potential for carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, or impairment of fertility is not available.
  • Methamphetamine has been shown to have teratogenic and embryocidal effects in mammals given high levels of the drug.
  • There have been no adequate studies regarding the use of the drug by pregnant women.
  • Infants born to mothers dependent on amphetamines have an increased risk of premature delivery and low birth weight.
  • Infants exposed in utero may also experience withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and lassitude.
  • The safety and effectiveness for the use of the drug as a diet pill has not been established for children below the age of 12 years old.
  • The long-term effects of methamphetamine on children have not been established.
  • The use of the drug by psychotic children may increase behavior disturbance and thought disorder.

In addition, a number of adverse symptoms have been attributed to the use of the drug including cardiovascular, central nervous system, gastrointestinal, and hypersensivity reactions. Suppression of growth has also been noted with the long-term use of stimulants by children. The use of Desoxyn by children under 6 years of age was also not approved.(6)

Based upon this information, the uncontrolled, long-term exposure to methamphetamine, especially by children and infants under 6 years of age, would not appear to be justified. In fact, the use of this drug even while under a physician's care would not be acceptable in a child under 6 years of age. In children above 6 years of age the use of the drug is certainly not risk-free and the potential outcomes from using the drug far from certain.