Dosing Dilemma


My daughter’s doctor just switched her from Ritalin to Focalin. I noticed that her dose is much lower than it was for the first ADHD medication. Could this be a mistake?

Dr. Larry Silver specializes in treating children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

Focalin, a dextro-methylphenidate, is, essentially, a refined form of Ritalin, a methylphenidate. Both medications are short-acting, and they have similar side effects. The main difference is the dosage amount. As a rule of thumb, a patient’s dose of Focalin should be half the dose he’d take of Ritalin, so it seems that your daughter has the correct dosage.

As you should after every dose or medication change, observe for the next few weeks and let the doctor know if you see any side effects or if her symptoms do not improve.

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
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