10 Oct 2022

Auckland GP charged with wrongly prescribing ADHD medication

2:32 pm on 10 October 2022
Dr Tony Hanne

Auckland GP Dr Tony Hanne is also facing one charge of prescribing medication to someone close to him. Photo: Supplied

A leading ADHD general practitioner is accused of wrongly prescribing thousands of doses of Ritalin and other medication.

Ritalin and Concerta could only be prescribed by GPs if patients had a recommendation from a psychiatrist or a paediatrician.

Auckland GP Tony Hanne was charged with prescribing without one 5662 times and was at a hearing facing misconduct and malpractice charges before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal today.

He was an expert in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and well known by those in the field.

Medical Council professional conduct committee lawyer Belinda Johns said Hanne had been warned several times for incorrectly prescribing the drugs but had continued to do so.

He was a passionate ADHD expert, clearly respected by those in the field and his grateful patients, she said.

But that did not absolve him of his responsibilities, she said.

"Any expertise Dr Hanne may have in the areas of ADHD does not put him above the law or allow him to flout the rules," she said.

The medications were class B controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

They were used to increased attention and decrease impulsivity for those with ADHD, but the flip side was they had addictive qualities and could be abused for nonmedical use, Johns said.

The tribunal was told how Hanne had an arrangement with a psychiatrist to get sign off for the prescriptions, without the specialist actually having seen the patients.

He also sometimes prescribed without even that level of approval.

Hanne's defence team was expected to argue that the rules were unworkable and impractical for patients who must seek expensive specialist appointments to meet the criteria.

In questioning a pharmacist witness, Hanne's lawyer Harry Waalken asked if she knew Hanne was one of the biggest managers of people with ADHD in the country.

He asked her if she was the aware the condition could be debilitating for those living with it and that it could be difficult to get medication under the current system.

There would be evidence later from families struggling because of that, he said.

The government and other agencies are investigating the approval process needed for medication and whether it is a barrier to patients getting help.

Hanne also faced one charge of prescribing medication to someone close to him.

Several witnesses were being called for the prosecution, before Hanne's defence team would begin in a hearing expected to take two weeks.

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