§ Mr. Nigel Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will provide figures for the last five years relating to the prescribing on the NHS of the drug Ritalin to treat children with attention deficit disorder. 
§ Mr. Milburn
The number of National Health Service prescription items dispensed in the community and the net ingredient cost for methylphenidate hydrochloride are given in the table. Information about prescriptions dispensed in hospitals are not available centrally.
Methylphenidate hydrochloride NHS prescription items and net
ingredient cost dispensed in the community
England 1993 to 1997
year Prescription items (thousands) Net ingredient cost (£000) 1993 3.5 25.7 1994 6.0 52.3 1995 14.7 253.0 1996 47.7 811.7 1997 92.1 1,636.5
1. The data are from the Prescription Cost Analysis system and cover all NHS prescriptions for methylphenidate hydrochloride dispensed by community pharmacists and dispensing doctors in England. Methylphenidate hydrochloride is the approved non-proprietary name for Ritalin.
2. The net ingredient cost (NIC) is the basic cost of a drug. This cost does not take account of discounts, dispensing costs, fees or prescription charges income.
3. Total NHS prescriptions include prescriptions originating not only from general practitioners but also from hospital doctors where these are dispensed in the community. Also included are prescriptions written in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man but dispensed in England.
4. It is assumed that the majority of prescriptions for methylphenidate hydrochloride relate to the treatment of children with attention deficit disorder, which is currently the only licensed indication of this drug. However, a small number of prescriptions may relate to the treatment of patients with narcolepsy (a licensed indication of the drug in the 1980s).