Concerta: Frequently Asked ADHD Medication Questions

Concerta is a popular stimulant medication primarily used to treat ADHD symptoms in adults and children ages 6 and up. A single dose lasts up to 12 hours, and is designed to improve focus, and decrease impulsivity and hyperactive behavior while active. Below, learn more about Concerta’s dosages, uses side effects, and reported benefits.

ADHD medication Concerta on keyboard
ADHD medication Concerta on keyboard

Click here to read our full Concerta medication overview, plus reader reviews of this common treatment for ADHD.

What is Concerta?

Concerta is a popular medication used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). It is a central nervous system stimulant and contains methylphenidate, the same medication ingredient found in Ritalin. It comes in 18mg, 27mg, 36mg and 54mg tablets and is intended to be taken once a day.

What’s the difference between Concerta and Ritalin?

These stimulant ADHD medications differ in their method of delivery. Concerta is designed to be effective in the body for 12 hours. Ritalin has an effective period of 4 to 6 hours. The longer-lasting Concerta is intended to eliminate the need to take medication during the school day. It is important to remember that the only thing different is the sustained delivery system. The medication — methylphenidate — has been in use since the mid 1950s to treat Ritalin.

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What are Concerta Side Effects?

Reported Concerta side effects include headache (14% of users), upper respiratory tract infection (8%), stomachache (7%), vomiting (4%), loss of appetite (4%), sleeplessness (4%), increased cough (4%), sore throat (4%), sinusitis (3%), and dizziness (2%). Other possible side effects would be the same as with Ritalin or other methylphenidate products.

Learn more about potential side effects here.

Is Concerta safe for children?

Concerta is FDA approved for use in children age 6 years and older. This medication has not been approved for use in children younger than 6 years of age. (Even if it had been approved for younger children, they would probably have a hard time swallowing the tablet.)

How much does Concerta cost?

Prices will vary depending on your pharmacy. One reader reported paying $70 for 30 pills (the 18 mg dose pill) and $73 for the 36 mg size. Another reader, from a different city, purchased the same 30 tablets of 36 mg Concerta for $54.72. Unlike some medications, a Concerta tablet is not scored and cannot be broken into two doses. The tablet must be swallowed whole for the medication to work as intended. It should only be used in patients who are able to swallow the tablet whole.

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Who should not take this ADHD medication?

People with the following conditions should be discouraged from using Concerta:

  • Agitation
  • Hypersensitivity to Methylphenidate
  • Glaucoma
  • Tics
  • Children under the age of 6

Other considerations

  • Patients with a history of drug dependence or alcoholism should use caution when using this medication.
  • Patients with high blood pressure or a history of heart failure, recent myocardial infarction, or hyperthyroidism should be monitored.
  • Patients with bipolar disorder should discuss with their doctor.

I’ve heard that the Concerta capsule passes through the body intact. Is that true?

That is correct. The Concerta capsule is designed to release the medication without dissolving the capsule. The empty capsule passes through the digestive tract and out of the body without being digested.

Where can I find out more about Concerta?

More information about Concerta is available at or by calling 1-888-526-7736.

Click here to read our full Concerta medication overview, plus reader reviews of this common treatment for ADHD.

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