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March 17th 2001 - 23:30 GMT

Federal Judge Dismisses ADHD Lawsuit

We have received the following development in the recent legal action being taken against the American Psychiatric Association and other co-defendants in the United States.

American Psychiatric Assn. Praises Ruling As Victory for Millions of Children and their Parents

SAN DIEGO, March 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In a victory for sound medicine and free speech, a federal judge in California has dismissed a class-action lawsuit claiming that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) conspired with others to improperly broaden the diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

In a March 8 ruling, Senior U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster said the plaintiffs had failed to state a legally viable claim against the APA and other defendants, and had produced no evidence to support their allegations. In addition, the judge ruled that activities by defendants intended to advance the medical understanding, diagnosis and treatment of ADHD were free speech protected under California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute.

"The ruling confirms that this lawsuit, and others like it, have no basis in law or fact," said Dr. Steven M. Mirin, medical director for the APA, based in Washington, D.C. "ADHD is a real disease that requires professional diagnosis and treatment. This is a victory for parents seeking to act in the best interests of their children."

The California lawsuit and similar suits filed in federal courts in Texas, Florida and New Jersey claimed that APA had conspired with a patient support group, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), and a pharmaceutical company, Novartis, to invent or exaggerate ADHD as a disorder. APA was specifically accused of improperly broadening the clinical diagnosis of ADHD in its authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

"There is no evidence to support these outrageous claims", said Mirin, adding that he was "pleased, but not surprised" by the ruling. "The existence of ADHD is based on a mountain of widely accepted scientific evidence accumulated over decades of research, as well as clinical experience from treating -- and helping -- millions of children," he said.

Specifically, the judge ruled that:

APA and the other defendants in the suit "have met their burden of showing that the anti-SLAPP statute applies, because the speech at issue is clearly speech protected under the United States and California Constitutions in connection with a public issue."

The plaintiffs "failed to show misrepresentation of any material facts, by whom any misrepresentations were made, when any misrepresentations were made, and where any misrepresentations were made as required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure."

The complaint "fails to state a cause of action because of a number of defects, including the absence of any allegations of causation, actionable conduct or damage."

Judge Brewster said the plaintiffs could amend their complaint, but warned that he would dismiss the case again unless the plaintiffs "could file a legally proper complaint and come forward with sufficient evidence to proceed."

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