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- What is methylphenidate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for methylphenidate?
- Is this drug available as a generic in generic form?
- Do I need a prescription for methylphenidate?
- What are the side effects of methylphenidate?
- What is the dosage for methylphenidate?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with methylphenidate?
- Is methylphenidate safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about this drug?
What is methylphenidate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Methylphenidate is a medication that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS or brain) in a manner that is similar to the amphetamines; however, its actions are milder than those of the amphetamines. An additional difference is that methylphenidate produces more noticeable effects on mental activities than on motor activities. Methylphenidate and amphetamines both have abuse potential. In treating children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), methylphenidate produces a calming effect. This results in a reduction in hyperactivity and an improvement in attention span. Methylphenidate also is used to treat excessive sleepiness. Methylphenidate was approved by the FDA in 1955.
What brand names are available for methylphenidate?
Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA, Concerta, Methylin, Methylin ER, Daytrana, Quillivant XR Metadate CD, Metadate ER
What are the side effects of methylphenidate?
The most common side effects with methylphenidate are:
Insomnia can be limited by taking the drug before noon. For children taking methylphenidate for ADHD, the most common side effects are loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weight loss, and sleep problems. The rate and severity of these side effects are less than that seen with dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine).
Other important side effects of methylphenidate include:
- involuntary movements,
- chest pain,
- increased heart rate,
- increased blood pressure, and
There have been rare reports of Tourette's syndrome, a syndrome in which there are uncontrollable tics such as grimacing occurring with methylphenidate use. Because of the potential for side effects, methylphenidate should be used with caution by patients who have relatives with Tourette's syndrome or have the syndrome themselves or who have severe anxiety, seizures, psychosis, emotional instability, major depression, glaucoma, or motor tics.
Sudden discontinuation of long-term methylphenidate therapy may unmask depression. Gradual withdrawal, under supervision, is recommended.
Methylphenidate is habit forming and should be used cautiously in individuals with a history of drug or alcohol abuse. Chronic abuse can lead to tolerance and psychological dependence leading to abnormal behavior.
Priapism defined as painful and nonpainful penile erection lasting more than 4 hours, have been reported in pediatric and adult patients treated with stimulants. The erection usually resolves when the drug is stopped. Prompt medical attention is required in the event of suspected priapism.
Quick GuideADHD Symptoms in Children
What is the dosage for methylphenidate?
The dose of methylphenidate is adjusted based on patients' responses. It may be given once, twice, or three times daily depending on formulation.
The recommended dose for Concerta is 18-72 mg once daily.
The recommended dose for Ritalin LA is 10-60 mg once daily and for regular Ritalin the recommended dose is 10-60 mg daily in 2 or 3 divided doses.
Which drugs or supplements interact with methylphenidate?
The stimulation effects of methylphenidate on the CNS can be additive when used with other chemicals and medications that stimulate the CNS, such as caffeine (found in coffee, tea, or cola drinks), and pseudoephedrine or phenylpropanolamine (found in many cough-and-cold preparations). The combination of methylphenidate and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and procarbazine (Matulane), should not be taken with methylphenidate since a hypertensive crisis (severely high blood pressure) may occur. Moreover, methylphenidate should not be given to any patient within 14 days of receiving such an inhibitor. The blood pressure lowering effects of medications used to treat hypertension may be reduced by methylphenidate. As a result, blood pressure needs to be monitored when starting or stopping methylphenidate in patients who are receiving medications for controlling their blood pressure.
PREGNANCY There are no adequate studies of methylphenidate in pregnant women.
Is methylphenidate safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
It is not known if methylphenidate is secreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about this drug?
What preparations of methylphenidate are available?
- Tablets: 5, 10, and 20 mg (Ritalin);
- Sustained-release tablets (Ritalin SR): 20 mg;
- Long acting tablets (Ritalin LA): 20, 30, and 40 mg.
- Extended release tablets (Concerta): 18, 27, 36, and 54 mg.
- Chewable tablets (Methylin): 2.5, 5, and 10 mg;
- Solution (Methylin): 5 mg/5 ml, 10 mg/5 ml.
- Extended release tablets (Methylin ER, Metadate ER): 10, 20 mg.
- Extended release capsules (Metadate): 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 mg.
How should I keep methylphenidate stored?
Tablets should be kept at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).
Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Ritalin LA, Concerta, Methylin, Methylin ER, Daytrana, Quillivant XR, Metadate CD, Metadate ER) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy and children with ADHD. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, patient safety information, and pregnancy efficacy should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top methylphenidate Related Articles
ADHD in ChildrenAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes the following symptoms in children: excessive activity, problems concentrating, and difficulty controlling impulses. There are three types of ADHD: the predominately inattentive type, the predominately hyperactive/impulsive type, and the combined (inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive) type. Stimulant medications are the most common medication used to treat ADHD.
Take the Childhood ADHD QuizFind out causes, symptoms, and treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a widespread behavioral condition commonly seen in children. Take the Childhood ADHD Quiz.
Adult ADHDAbout 2%-6% of adults have ADHD, a common behavioral problem. Symptoms include impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. Treatment may involve ADHD education, attending a support group, skills training, and medication.
DepressionDepression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Drug AbuseDrug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and those around him. Though the initial decision to use drugs is voluntary, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person's self-control and ability to make the right decisions and increase the urge to take drugs. Drug abuse and addiction are preventable.
Drug Abuse SlideshowWhat is drug abuse? Learn about prescription drug abuse and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, including depressants, pain relievers, and stimulants.
Learning DisabilityLearning disabilities can cause an individual to have trouble learning and using skills such as reading, listening, writing, reading, speaking, reasoning, and performing mathematics. There is no cure for learning disabilities. Parents and teachers working together to properly diagnose learning disabilities can properly plan a course of education. For some, medication may be appropriate as complimentary treatment.
NarcolepsyCauses of narcolepsy, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, have not been fully determined. Some theories include abnormalities in hypocretin neurons in the brain or an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms of narcolepsy include:
- excessive daytime sleepiness,
- hypnagogic hallucinations,
- sleep paralysis,
- disturbed nocturnal sleep, and
- automatic behavior.
Diagnosis of narcolepsy is based on a clinical evaluation, specific questionnaires, sleep logs or diaries, and the results of sleep laboratory tests. Treatments of narcolepsy symptoms include medication and lifestyle changes.
ParaphiliaParaphilias are characterized by sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors involving unusual objects or activities. Exhibitionism, fetishism, frotteurism, pedophilia, sadism, transvestitism, voyeurism, and sexual masochism are examples of paraphilias. Counseling, therapy, and medications are used in the treatment of paraphilias.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that tends to occur as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, irritability, body aches, poor sleep, and overeating.
A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include:
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Concentration or memory problems
Lack of sleep and insomnia can be caused by medical conditions or diseases, medications, stress, or pain. The treatment for lack of sleep and insomnia depends upon the cause.
Tourette SyndromeTourette syndrome is disorder, which symptoms include involuntary facial tics, motor tics, and vocal tics. The cause of Tourette syndrome is not known. ADHD is associated with Tourette syndrome. Treatment includes medication, psychotherapy, and in severe cases surgery.