ADHD News & Research

Study Confirms Atomoxetine As an Effective Alternative to Stimulants

A new study finds that the nonstimulant medication Atomoxetine, more commonly known as Strattera, is just as effective and safe as stimulant medications.

June 24, 2016

Atomoxetine — more commonly known by the brand name Strattera — is an effective and safe alternative to the stimulant medications most commonly used to treat ADHD, a new study finds. This may seem like old news to consumers, but not so in the medical community; the study’s researchers concluded that doctors don’t always consider atomoxetine a viable alternative for patients who can’t tolerate or don’t experience the desired effects of stimulant medications.

The research, presented May 14 at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Atlanta, Georgia, analyzed 70 studies (comprising nearly 2,600 patients) comparing the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of atomoxetine vs. stimulant medications. They analyzed the results using three rating scales, the ADHD Rating Scale-IV (ADHD-RS-IV), the Conners’ Parent Rating Scale-Revised Short Form (CPRS-R-S), and the Clinical Global Impressions-ADHD Severity (CGI-ADHD-S) scale.

Though stimulants did perform better on every efficacy measure, atomoxetine did better than the researchers had initially suspected it would. On safety-related measurements like blood pressure, body mass change, and pulse, stimulants and non-stimulants performed almost identically.

“Atomoxetine was the first non-stimulant approved for treatment of ADHD by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its effectiveness has been well established in numerous placebo-controlled trails,” said Dr. M.M. Naveen, the lead author of the study. “[With these results], clinicians may be more open to considering atomoxetine as a treatment alternative for children and adolescents with ADHD who fail to respond to, or do not tolerate, stimulant medications.”

Atomoxetine has been linked in the past to increased suicidal thoughts, so the researchers concede that it may not be the best option for patients with comorbid conditions like anxiety or mood disorders. But for many patients with just ADHD, it may be a straightforward solution when stimulants don’t seem to work. “Although atomoxetine may not be superior to the current standard of care, it is a valid alternative,” Naveen said.