ADHD Medications : Recent Advances

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Important Recent Improvements in ADHD Medications

ADHD medications have made important improvements. Over the past ten years the greatest advances in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medicines has not been the development of some wonder drug, though some good medications have been developed. Rather the biggest advances in ADHD medicine has been the improvement and greater variety of the delivery systems of time tested and valuable drugs for the disorder.

Now the time tested medication methylphenidate for ADHD comes in four different delivery forms:

  • Pills
  • Pumps
  • Pellets
  • Patches

And the newest development in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medication also begins with the letter “P”. The development of the Pro-Drug Vyvanse is also a good step forward.

Pills are still in use for Ritalin and a few other forms of methylphenidate, but they are best suited for shorter acting doses of medications. But a three to four hour dose of Ritalin creates problems for an ADHD child in school having to get to the second dose at lunch. So the “holy grail” of stimulant development has always been an effectively released long lasting dosing mechanism.

The pump system was developed with Concerta, and it is an effective time release delivery system for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medication. A pellet system was used for ADDerall XR by Shire which is also an effective time release system.

The patch delivery system of methylphenidate is sold as Daytrana. It delivers the medication through the skin, and lasts most of the day as well. No more swallowing of pills, pellets, or pumps.

ADHD Medications

The new ADHD medication is the pro-drug Vyvanse, which is a combination of methylphenidate, bound with a lysene molecule, so that the medicine is ineffective (inert?) until it reaches the stomach or intestines and is digested. Then the medication is released. The ingenuity in this is that the drug cannot be abused by teens or college students who want to snort Ritalin. It only works after you swallow it.

Of course Strattera is a newer ADHD drug. It is not a stimulant, but is a highly selective norepinepherine re-uptake inhibitor, which works well with a broad spectrum of ADHD symptoms (it may be most effective with Inattentive ADHD kids with some degree of anxiety or depression). Strattera is the first FDA approved non-Stimulant for children and adults

Intuniv is a newer medication for the treatment of ADHD in children and teens that gained its approval from the FDA and was available to pharmacies in November, 2009. Intuniv is not a stimulant medication, and may be helpful to the estimated 25-30% of children with ADHD who do not benefit from stimulant medications. Instead, Intuniv is a form of Guanfacine (Tenex) which has been used for years as a blood pressure medication in adults, and has also been used as an adjunct medication in the treatment of ADHD individuals with temper or anger problems, or oppositional defiant disorder. Now in the form of Intuniv, this medication seems to have a wider range of symptoms that benefit from its use than just anger or oppositional behavior. It appears that Intuniv is very targeted, working in the pre-frontal cortex to help the brain to increase the available supply of glutamate, and excitatory neurotransmitter.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is among the most treatable of psychiatric disorders thanks to the recent advances in medications.

This book section: ADHD Medication Issues and Research

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Tehachapi, CA who has been a counselor to children, teens, and adults helping them to overcome ADHD, find relief for depression or anxiety, and solve other problems in life since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource at His weekly ADHD Newsletter goes out to 9,500 families. Visit his website at for more information on achieving greater health, personal growth, Christ-centered spirituality, stress management, parenting skills, ADHD, working out the stresses of being a care-giver to elderly parents and also being a parent to teenagers, or finding greater meaning in retirement years, Dr. Cowan can be a valuable resource to you.

Counselor counseling Tehachapi for ADHD, depression, anxiety, and more.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT
27400 Oakflat Dr.
Tehachapi, CA 93561
(661) 972-5953

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