New Meds Promise Safer ADHD Alternatives
> 5/30/2007 1:47:12 PM

Two drugs which were recently approved by the FDAand should be available in summer 2007 offer safer and, hopefully, moreefficient alternatives for those patients needing prescriptiontreatment for ADHD and its related conditions. The new drugs alsopromise a reduced capacity for the recreational abuse that has plaguedmany 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 propertieswhen taken in large doses, and illegally obtained samples (often soldby patients to whom they've been prescribed) can be snorted or, inextreme cases, injected in the same manner as other powdered narcoticssuch as cocaine and heroin. Daytrana, approved for prescription to children aged 6 to 12,is uniquely administered through a skin patch, providing patients withthe formula's working components in a steady stream throughout the day.While it contains the same amphetamines as pre-existing meds, it mayprove more convenient for parents of young children who are hesitant orinconsistent in taking their oral meds, and it cannot be shared withother children through contact. It also eliminates the possibility ofabuse as it releases its elements consistently over a 9-hour periodrather than in an immediate dose and does not lead to the quick burstof adrenaline and pleasure hormones that constitute a fix.

Vyvnaseis a traditional oral medication, but because it contains certain aminoacids that require doses to be metabolized by the stomach before theygo into effect, it will not providethe instant "high" that attracts recreational users to other ADHDmedications. Of course, Vyvnase also contains the standardamphetamines, and its potential for abuse or overdose will still benoted on precautionary packaging, official websites and FDA summaries.But the promise implicit in these new offerings may constitute a minorrevolution in both the treatment of ADHD and our efforts to counter theepidemic stemming from the narcotic use of drugs like Adderall XR andRitalin LA.

Companies have developed non-stimulant ADHD alternativesin the past. One example is Strattera, which has grown relativelypopular but often produces some of the same undesirable side-effects aspopular anti-depressants: pronounced drowsiness, a slight possibilityof increased suicidal ideation and fluctuating moods, and reducedappetite (for that reason, it has also been used to curb binge eatingbehaviors). Many doctors have expressed expected skepticismover the new meds, stating that they have yet to be convinced of theirbenefits, but distributors have begun a public campaign in the beliefthat, once presented with evidence of their efficiency, doctors willbegin to prescribe them en masse. Market experts believe that the drugscould, within the next few years, assume a prominent place in the ADHDmarket. With time, they may contribute to the crucial effort tosimultaneously provide effective treatment for the millions who sufferfrom ADHD and, at the same time, significantly reduce the number ofyoung people who abuse prescription amphetamines. We can only hope.

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