ADHD Name-Brand Prescriptions vs. Generic Drugs

Considering switching from name-brand prescription drugs to generic medication to treat child or adult attention deficit? Learn about the differences in price, safety, effectiveness, and side effects.


Filed Under: ADD Meds: Dosing, ADHD Stimulant Medications, Nonstimulant ADHD Medications, Side Effects of ADHD Meds, ADHD and Money
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Side Effects of Generic ADHD Meds

Some ADD/ADHD patients have reported increased side effects, such as upset stomach and headaches. For those who do not respond well to generic drugs, Boorady speculates the cause could be more than just the speed at which a generic drug dispenses its active ingredient. “The difference in patients has to do with the differences in the fillers,” he says. Some patients are more sensitive to the colorings, binders, or other chemicals that are used in the generic and not the name-brand drug. Graedon compares buying generic medications to choosing a cheaper form of toilet paper. “It’s all toilet paper,” he said. “They’re all white, they serve the same purpose, but they have different comfort levels."

How to Make the Switch to Generic ADD/ADHD Drugs

Most experts agree that many ADD/ADHD patients use generic medications successfully, and that these should remain options for treatment. Still, if you or your child is currently taking a name-brand treatment for ADD/ADHD and wants to switch to a generic, it is important to monitor any changes in behavior or symptoms. Teachers and parents often spot behavioral changes sooner than a physician, so it may be helpful to keep a log of your child’s symptoms to share with the doctor. Since many physicians now start an ADD/ADHD patient on a generic version of a stimulant, keep in mind that if the treatment seems ineffective, the name-brand version -- or a different form of generic of the same drug -- may work well. Orologio knows now to double-check prescriptions before having them filled, making sure that the right generic medication is listed, and that the “dispense as written” box is checked. As Orologio learned, even when something is “prescribed as the same exact drug,” he says, “it can be different.”

Next: One ADD/ADHD Adult's Story of Switching to Generic Meds


This article appears in the Fall 2010 issue of ADDitude.
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To discuss generic vs. brand-name ADHD medication with others, visit the ADHD Medications support group on ADDConnect.


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