First amphetamine-based long-acting stimulant offers all-day symptom control in children
A research team led by a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator has found that a long-acting form of the stimulant medication Adderall is effective in controlling symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children when taken in a single morning dose. The standard form of Adderall, which is made up of several amphetamine-based drugs, is only effective for four hours. This new formulation joins other long-acting stimulants, such as extended-release methylphenidate (Ritalin), in giving patients with ADHD a greater choice of medication. The report appears in the August issue of Pediatrics.
"Long-acting stimulants are very beneficial for children with ADHD, who otherwise have to go to the nurses office during the school day to receive their medication. And timed-release dosage avoids having frequent peaks and valleys of medication levels, giving the patient a more stable therapeutic environment," says Joseph Biederman, MD, director of Pediatric Psychopharmacology at MGH and the studys lead author. "This medication gives us another treatment opportunity for those who cannot tolerate other stimulant drugs."
More than 500 children aged 6 to 12 who met standard diagnostic criteria for ADHD enrolled in the study at 47 sites across the country. Participants were randomly divided into four groups, and after a one-week "washout" period in which all participants received a placebo medication, three of the four groups began taking a 10 mg daily dose of the timed-release medication. The fourth group continued on placebo. After a week of 10 mg dosage, two of the three medication groups switched to a 20 mg dosage. And after another week, one group advanced to a 30 mg daily dosage. The study was double-blinded, meaning that study participants, their parents and the treating physicians did not know what dosages participants were receiving.
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