New Medicines Promise Safe ADHD Alternatives
> 5/30/2007 10:29:38 AM

Two drugs which were recently approved by the FDA and should be available in summer 2007 offer safer and, hopefully, more efficient alternatives for those patients needing prescription treatment for ADHD and its related conditions. The new drugs also promise a reduced capacity for the recreational abuse that has plagued many of the most popular ADHD medications in recent years.

Stimulant drugs like Ritalin, while effective for millions of patients, have become notorious for their intoxicant properties when taken in large doses, and illegally obtained samples (often sold by patients to whom they've been prescribed) can be snorted or, in extreme cases, injected in the same manner as other powdered narcotics such as cocaine and heroin. Daytrana, approved for prescription to children aged 6 to 12, is uniquely administered through a skin patch, providing patients with the formula's working components in a steady stream throughout the day. While it contains the same amphetamines as pre-existing meds, it may prove more convenient for parents of young children who are hesitant or inconsistent in taking their oral meds, and it cannot be shared with other children through contact. It also eliminates the possibility of abuse as it releases its elements consistently over a 9-hour period rather than in an immediate dose and does not lead to the quick burst of adrenaline and pleasure hormones that constitute a fix.

Vyvnase is a traditional oral medication, but because it contains certain amino acids that require doses to be metabolized by the stomach before they go into effect, it will not provide the instant "high" that attracts recreational users to other ADHD medications. Of course, Vyvnase also contains the standard amphetamines, and its potential for abuse or overdose will still be noted on precautionary packaging, official websites and FDA summaries. But the promise implicit in these new offerings may constitute a minor revolution in both the treatment of ADHD and our efforts to counter the epidemic stemming from the narcotic use of drugs like Adderall XR and Ritalin LA.

Companies have developed non-stimulant ADHD alternatives in the past. One example is Strattera, which has grown relatively popular but often produces some of the same undesirable side-effects as popular anti-depressants: pronounced drowsiness, a slight possibility of increased suicidal ideation and fluctuating moods, and reduced appetite (for that reason, it has also been used to curb binge eating behaviors). Many doctors have expressed expected skepticism over the new meds, stating that they have yet to be convinced of their benefits, but distributors have begun a public campaign in the belief that, once presented with evidence of their efficiency, doctors will begin to prescribe them en masse. Market experts believe that the drugs could, within the next few years, assume a prominent place in the ADHD market. With time, they may contribute to the crucial effort to simultaneously provide effective treatment for the millions who suffer from ADHD and, at the same time, significantly reduce the number of young people who abuse prescription amphetamines. We can only hope. 

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