Are Trial-and-Error Meds a Thing of the Past?


"My doctor says there's a new test to determine if medication will help a child. What is it?"

Dr. Larry Silver specializes in treating children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

Last year, a research team at the Medical University of South Carolina reported that it discovered a gene mutation directly involved in the metabolism of methylphenidate (Ritalin).

The researchers suggested that, some day, it might be possible for a genetic test to determine whether methylphenidate will be effective for a child with ADHD.

It often takes a long time to develop inexpensive and convenient clinical applications from basic research findings. For now, we still determine which stimulant will work best by trial and experience.

[Editor's Note: Read "Mutation Related to ADHD Drug Metabolism Discovered" at]

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
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