Vyvanse vs. Strattera

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Vyvanse vs. Strattera comparison

Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) and Strattera (atomoxetine) are both used in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and the both work by affecting levels of certain neurotransmitters. (Neurotransmitters are chemicals that allow nerves and nerve cells to communicate with one another).

Lisdexamfetamine is in the same drug class of central nervous system (CNS) stimulants as drugs like Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) and Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine). Atomoxetine, however, is the first non-addictive ADHD treatment.

Both can cause nausea, sleep problems, and a number of other shared side effects, some more serious than others.

Because Vyvanse and Strattera are in different drug classes, however, their side effects differ somewhat. Strattera can cause sexual side effects, indigestion and possible allergic reaction, whereas Vyvanse can cause blurred vision , growth retardation in children and possibly seizures.

Still, the central difference from the standpoint of the person prescribed either Vyvanse or Strattera is Strattera has no addiction potential while the Vyvanse does.

Both lisdexamfetamine and atomoxetine interact with a number of drugs, but most importantly, neither should be taken within two weeks of your last dose of any drug classified as or containing a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).

What are Vyvanse and Strattera?

Unlike traditional amphetamines and other central nervous system stimulants like Adderall and Dexedrine, Vyvanse is a prodrug. This means the chemical (lisdexamfetamine) contained in the pill isn't, itself, effective to treat the condition; it doesn't start working until the body breaks it down in the gut, where if forms dextroamphetamine. Dextroamphetamine is the sole active ingredient in Dexedrine and one part of the drug combination in Adderall, and therefore, lisdexamfetamine results in the same effects and reactions as other amphetamines by affecting the levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain.

The slower breakdown and release makes Vyvanse less attractive to people who are addicted to or who abuse amphetamines. Lisdexamfetamine's particular chemistry means it takes longer and makes it more difficult to achieve the high they crave. This does not mean Vyvanse is not addictive or dangerous, however; it's still an amphetamine governed by the U.S. Controlled Substances Act because of its potential for abuse.

Strattera, on the other hand, has no potential for addiction or withdrawal symptoms - its central advantage.

Atomoxetine is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), which is an entirely different class than the CNS stimulants family to which the other ADHD medications belong. Strattera's non-addictive quality is a novel achievement in ADHD medical treatment. Even Ritalin (methylphenidate, also sold as Concerta), though not an amphetamine, is still a habit-forming stimulant that is psychologically addictive.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/23/2017

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