atomoxetine, Strattera

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GENERIC NAME: atomoxetine

BRAND NAME: Strattera

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Atomoxetine is an oral drug that is used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). An estimated 15 million Americans have ADHD, and approximately half will require drug therapy to control symptoms. While some children outgrow ADHD, about 60% continue to have symptoms into adulthood. Until recently, drug therapy has consisted almost exclusively of stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate (Ritalin and others). These stimulants are restricted in availability under the Controlled Substances Act because of their potential for abuse. Atomoxetine is the first drug for ADHD that is not a stimulant under the Controlled Substances Act.

Although it is not known precisely how atomoxetine reduces the symptoms of ADHD, scientists believe it works by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain, chemicals that the nerves use for communicating with one another. One neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, is considered important in regulating attention, impulsivity and activity levels, all of which are abnormal in ADHD. Norepinephrine is manufactured by nerves in the brain and then is released from the nerves. The norepinephrine travels to other nerves and attaches to the nerves, causing changes in the way the nerves function. Some of the norepinephrine that is released is reabsorbed by the nerves that produce it thereby reducing the amount of epinephrine that is available to travel to other nerves. Atomoxetine is believed to reduce the reabsorption of epinephrine by nerves. This makes more norepinephrine available to attach to other nerves in the brain. Atomoxetine was approved by the FDA November 2002.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2014



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