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.

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

Dominic Orologio, 34, began treatment for ADD/ADHD symptoms six years ago. His doctor prescribed 30 milligrams of Adderall XR, an extended-release prescription medication. Orologio’s symptoms became more manageable. For the first time in his life, he was able to focus on work at the office.

After a few years on the medication, Orologio’s normal dose was no longer effective throughout the day, a common problem for people taking ADD/ADHD medications long-term. What once gave him relief from his ADD/ADHD symptoms for most of the day now worked for only about three hours. With his doctor’s advice, Orologio began to take a higher dose of a generic version of the drug.

On his first day with this new medication, he noticed that, after 45 minutes, the generic seemed to stop working. Conditions hadn’t improved with the switch to the generic; they had worsened. Seeking consistent relief for his ADD/ADHD symptoms, Orologio talked with his doctor and was put on Ritalin. The first version of Ritalin that he tried was a common generic that worked well. When he finished that prescription, he had a new prescription filled for what he thought was the same form of generic Ritalin. He noticed that his white tablets had been replaced by bright yellow ones, so he checked the label on the bottle. Sure enough, the yellow pills were also methylphenidate -- the active ingredient in Ritalin -- so he took one as prescribed. “Within a day it was a horror story, a complete nightmare,” says Orologio. “It was like I drank 10 cups of coffee; I was jittery and anxious.”

More on ADD/ADHD Medications

Your Top Questions About Medicating ADD/ADHD Children...Answered!

Fix Your ADD/ADHD Child's Medication Problems

ADD/ADHD Medication: Say No to Side Effects


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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