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Stimulant Medications- naming names Part II of III

Some of the more well known name medications used to treat ADHD:

Amphetamine Category Methylphenidate Category

Adderall Ritalin

Adderall XR Ritalin SR, LA

Dexedrine Methylin, Methylin SR

Vyvanse Focalin, Focalin XR

Evekeo Concerta

Zenzedi Daytrana

Quillivant XR

Amphetamine Category


  • Amphetamine based stimulant

  • Amphetamine - discovered in 1887

  • Used to treat ADHD and Narcolepsy

  • Can be used to treat depression and also to treat obesity

  • 25% levoamphetamine salts, 75% dextroamphetamine salts

  • Therapeutic effect is generally 4 to 4.5 hours

Adderall XR

  • Same as Adderall above except for hours of action

  • The capsule contains 2 types of medication beads. This leads to 2 pulses of delivery. Length of action generally reported as about 6 hours.

Dexedrine (Brand name)

  • Dextroamphetamine (Generic name)

  • Indicated to treat ADHD and Narcolepsy

  • Can also be useful to treat depression and also to treat obesity

  • Does not have levoamphetamine

  • Therapeutic effect lasts about 4 to 4.5 hours.


  • Lisdexamfetamine (contracted from L-lysine- dextroamphetamine)

  • Does not have levoamphetamine

  • Used to treat ADHD and binge eating disorder. Can also be used to treat other issues as shown above.

  • Is a pro-drug to dextroamphetamine (shown above).

  • “Pro drug” means that it is an inactive version of dexedrine. It is only activated upon absorption when the L-lysine is cleaved from dextroamphetamine by an enzyme.

  • Lasts 8 to 10 hours generally, according to patient reports.


  • Amphetamine Sulfate

  • Racemic form- Both Levo and Dextro isomers in a 50-50 ratio. The L-isomer is more potent than the D- isomer in cardiovascular activity but much less potent in causing CNS effects.

  • Less effective in appetite suppression compared to dextroamphetamine

  • Duration of action- up to 10 hours

  • Besides treatment for ADHD, Evekeo has an indication to treat Narcolespy


  • Dextroamphetamine sulfate, Brand name (as opposed to the generic, Dexedrine aka dextroamphetamine)

  • Duration= 4 to 6 hours

Methylphenidate category


  • Brand name for methylphenidate

  • Duration - generally about 4 hours

Ritalin SR

  • Differs from Ritalin in that its duration is up to 6-8 hours.

  • Slower to reach peak effect- happens around 2 to 3 hours after administration

  • Similar to Ritalin in that it is one peak

Ritalin LA

  • Differs from Ritalin in that its duration is longer, i.e. 6 to 8 hours

  • Capsule is made up of 2 different beads and therefore 2 different peaks of action.

  • Therefore, not slower to start acting (like Ritalin SR)

Methylin, Methylin ER

  • These are both brand names for methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Focalin, Focalin XR

  • Focalin is dexmethylphenidate

  • Each methylphenidate molecule has a mirror image, i.e. right sided and left sided or dextro and levo. Focalin only has the dextro side. The Levo is isolated out and removed.

  • Dosing

  • It has the same impact as Ritalin but at half the dose. For example, 5mg Focalin is equivalent to 10mg Ritalin.

  • The difference between Focalin and Focalin XR is the duration. Duration times vary depending on the individual. That said, on average Focalin may last for about 6 hours and Focalin XR can last for 8 to 10 hours.


  • Methylphenidate that lasts for 12 hours.

  • Capsule constructed with a thin layer of ritalin on the outside for immediate action (about 30 to 40 min after ingestion).

  • Then it has tiny holes that allow for “pump action” where water pushes in and medication comes out, slowly, over about 12 hours.

  • Can be useful in older children who don’t go to bed as early as younger children.

  • It is good to cover the entire school day and homework time, if planned properly.


  • Methylphenidate in the form of a patch

  • Benefits-

  • For children who cannot swallow pills

  • Dosing- can cut the patch to the exact dose that is right for the child.

  • Duration- can stop by removing patch

  • Drawbacks-

  • Reports that it can irritate the skin. Therefore, may have to put in different places and rotate so as to avoid irritation in one spot.

Quillivant XR

  • A liquid form of methylphenidate

  • Good for children who cannot swallow pills

  • Good for exact dosing- to the drop. Cannot dose so precisely with pills

  • Duration- about 10 hours.

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