Generic: Dexmethylphenidate HCL
Focalin is a central nervous system stimulant primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children ages 6-12, adolescents, and adults. Focalin may improve focus, and decrease impulsivity and hyperactive behavior, hallmark symptoms in some patients with the condition. It contains the same active ingredient as medications like Ritalin and Daytrana. According to the FDA, Focalin is a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. It has not been studied in children under the age of 6.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends treatment with behavioral therapy before medication for children under the age of 6. For children ages 6 to 11, the AAP says “The primary care clinician should prescribe US Food and Drug Administration–approved medications for ADHD and/or evidence-based parent- and/or teacher-administered behavior therapy as treatment for ADHD, preferably both.” Likewise, the National Institute of Mental Health finds the most successful treatment plans use a combination of ADHD medication, like Focalin, and behavior therapies.
Focalin can also be used to treat narcolepsy.
How to Use Focalin
Before starting or refilling a Focalin prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.
This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your or your child’s medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.
As with all medications, follow your Focalin prescription instructions exactly. Focalin is taken orally, with or without food, twice daily. Doses should be taken at least 4 hours apart.
Tablets are available in 2.5mg, 5mg, and 10mg dosages.
During treatment, your doctor may periodically ask you to stop taking Focalin so that he or she can monitor ADHD symptoms; check vital statistics including blood, heart, and blood pressure; or evaluate height and weight. If any problems are found, your doctor may recommend discontinuing treatment.
Some patients report developing a tolerance to Focalin after long-term usage. If you notice that your dosage is no longer controlling your symptoms, talk to your doctor to plan a course of action.
The most common side effects of Focalin are as follows: stomach ache, nausea, decreased appetite, and fever.
Other serious side effects include the following: serious allergic reaction, slowing of growth in children, seizures, eyesight changes or blurred vision, and priapism.
Taking Focalin may impair your or your teenager’s ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor. Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.
Report to your doctor any heart-related problems or a family history of heart and blood pressure problems. Patients with structural cardiac abnormalities and other serious heart problems have experienced sudden death, stroke, heart attack, and increased blood pressure while taking Focalin. Stimulants can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Physicians should monitor these vital signs closely during treatment. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences warning signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking Focalin.
Also disclose to your physician all mental health issues including any family history of suicide, bipolar illness, tics, or depression. Focalin may create new or exacerbate existing behavior problems, bipolar illness, or Tourette’s syndrome. It can cause psychotic or manic symptoms in children and teenagers. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences new or worsening mental health symptoms including hallucinations or sudden suspicions.
Discuss circulation problems with your doctor before taking Focalin, which has been known to cause numbness, coolness, or pain in fingers or toes, including Raynaud’s phenomenon. Report to your doctor any new blood-flow problems, pain, skin color changes, or sensitivities to temperature while taking Focalin.
Stimulants like Focalin have a high potential for abuse and addiction, especially among people who do not have ADHD. It is a “Schedule II Stimulant,” a designation that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses for drugs with a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule II drugs include Dexedrine, Ritalin, and cocaine. People with a history of drug abuse should use caution when trying this medication. Taking the medication exactly as prescribed can reduce potential for abuse.
The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
Precautions and Safety
Store Focalin in a secure place out of reach of children, and at room temperature. Do not share your Focalin prescription with anyone, even another person with ADHD. Sharing prescription medication is illegal, and can cause harm.
You should not take Focalin if you or your child have:
- tics or Tourette’s syndrome
- a history of drug abuse
- severe feelings of anxiety, tension, or agitation
- an allergy to stimulant medications or any other ingredients in Focalin
- taken or plan to take a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) within 14 days
If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss the use of Focalin with your doctor. Animal studies indicate potential harm to a fetus. It is not known if Focalin is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking it.
Before taking Focalin, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor. Focalin can have a dangerous, possibly fatal, interaction with antidepressants including MAOIs.
Tell your doctor if you are taking seizure medications, blood thinners, blood pressure medication, or any medication containing a decongestant.
Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, and let all doctors and physicians know you are taking Focalin before having any surgery or laboratory tests. The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions.
Tips for Good Medication and Treatment Reviews
- Post reviews only for medications or treatments you have used or prescribed.
- In your description, mention whether you're reviewing the medication or treatment for a child or for an adult (yourself or another adult), and as a patient or as a medical professional.
- Mention what medical condition you were using the medication or treatment to address.
- Mention the brand, dose, and period of time that you used the medication or treatment.
- Please share your positive and negative experiences with the medication or treatment in detail. Note effectiveness, ease of use, side effects; and compare it with other treatments you have used.
- Do not include any personal information or links in your review.