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Does my son require drugs for better concentration and attention?

Q: Can you please tell me whether it is advisable to use Attentrol 10 mg twice for my son who is 13 years old? He is on Divaa OD - 750 mg for seizures and Nootropil 1200 twice for concentration and memory. He is absolutely free from seizures for the past 3 years. Our doctor suggested Attentrol for his lack of attention. As it is he got 80% in his VII standard. After putting him on attentrol for 20 days we found side effects and stopped the medicine. He is going for yoga and we want to increase his attention span naturally. We are very anxious about the side effects of the medicines he is on. Please guide us.

A:Divaa OD is the brand name of a medicine called divalproex sodium, which is identical with valproic acid (Chrono Valparine); hence I do not know why the brand was changed. Due to certain pharmacological reasons, the bioavailability (blood levels) of various brands of anti-epileptic products are not uniform. Hence one should avoid changing brands mid-way unless there are very strong clinical reasons to do so. To my knowledge nowhere in the world, a medicine has been developed which increases memory or concentration. Taking advantage of this gap, many unethical pharma companies are making unverified and unproven claims about the efficacy and safety of their brands. They indulge in aggressive promotion often offering incentives to prescribers and chemists. If such "medicines" were harmless though useless, one could excuse the producers for their greed and prescribers for their ignorance but some brands such as Nootropil are potentially harmful. The product contains a medicine called piracetam. In western countries (including Belgium where the head office of the manufacturer of Nootropil is located) it is permitted for use only in a very rare disease called cortical myclonus, that too in patients over the age of 16 years. It is illegal to give this medicine to children below 16 years. In India, Piracetam is being promoted for vague conditions like "intellectual decay," "social maladjustment," "lack of alertness," "changes of mood," "deterioration in behaviour" and "learning disabilities in children." The drug's long-term side effects include: insomnia, nervousness, depression, hyperkinesia and rash. Piracetam is not permitted to be sold in the United States.

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