Which ADHD Medication Is Best? That Depends.

The market for ADHD medications is so bloated that finding the right treatment feels impossible and overwhelming at times. Here, an ADHD specialist explains the options in terms we can all understand.

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Same ADD/ADHD Medication, Different Forms

Medications such as methylphenidate and dextro-amphetamine also come in liquid forms. The patient information sheet inside the medication's box or packaging states how much medication is in each unit of liquid; for example, 5 mg per 5 ml of liquid. Another methylphenidate product — Daytrana* — is a patch that releases medication through the skin and into the bloodstream. It should start to work in about one hour, and remain effective until about one hour after being removed (usually around nine hours). Daytrana 30 mg contains about 30 mg of methylphenidate, and releases about 3.3 mg of it per hour.

As if that weren't challenging enough, amphetamine and methylphenidate are made of two isomers, called dextro and levo isomers. When the first amphetamine products used for ADD/ADHD were studied, experts learned that the dextro form was more effective in managing symptoms than the levo form. Thus, dextro-amphetamine became the primary product used to treat the condition. (Adderall, prescribed to many patients who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, is a mixture of dextro- and levo-amphetamine, plus other amphetamine salts.) A similar finding was recently made on methylphenidate. Researchers learned that the dextro form was more effective than the levo form. Dextro-methylphenidate is manufactured under the name of Focalin.

*FDA is warning that permanent loss of skin color may occur with use of the Daytrana patch (methylphenidate transdermal system) for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). FDA added a new warning to the drug label to describe this skin condition, which is known as chemical leukoderma. See the FDA Drug Safety Communication for more information.

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TAGS: ADD Meds: Dosing, ADHD Medication and Children, ADHD Stimulant Medications, Vyvanse

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