The UK’s first melatonin product for insomnia in children and adolescents aged 6-17 years old with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been launched.
Melatonin is one of the most commonly used drugs for paediatric sleep problems, in particular those with neurodevelopmental related sleep disorders. However, even though up to 73% will of children with ADHD will experience sleep problems, there has been no melatonin treatment licensed for children with ADHD in the UK.
Lack of sleep can worsen ADHD symptoms, have a negative impact on children’s emotions and behaviour, disrupt school performance, peer relations and family functioning. In a recent survey of child psychiatrists the effects of sleep deprivation were described as “explosive”, some even said it “breaks families”.
Melatonin is a safe and effective treatment for sleep disorders
Dr María Martínez Hervés, Consultant Child and Paediatric Psychiatrist, said: “Sleep is imperative for normal day-to-day functioning. However, sufficient good quality sleep can be a struggle for children with ADHD, affecting everything from cognitive function and learning, to family life and social behaviour. It is well established that melatonin is a safe and effective treatment for sleep disorders in children and adolescents with ADHD. Having a licensed melatonin product could ease the transition of patients from a specialist service to general practice.”
Until now prescribing for children with ADHD has been off-label or unlicensed and many GPs (50%) are reticent to take on prescribing of off-label/unlicensed medicines, putting pressure on overstretched specialists.
In addition, patients’ parents/carers have to liaise with specialists to obtain repeat prescriptions. This could involve long drives to clinics based in hospitals or standalone clinics to pick up a prescription which could potentially be easily filled out at the local pharmacy.