The Most Popular ADHD Medications Broken Down


What’s the difference between Adderall and Concerta? Ritalin and Vyvanse? Strattera and Intuniv? All of these ADHD medications can be used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults, but they vary widely in dosage, method of delivery, and duration of effects.

Treatment for attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last few decades. This means parents and adults have more options than ever when it comes to ADHD medication— but it also means that the plethora of medication choices can be confusing, overwhelming, and time-consuming to sort through when you’re trying to design your ideal treatment plan.

If you’re considering — or already taking — medication to treat yourself or your child’s ADHD, use this simple, easy-to-follow chart to learn the dosages, formulations, for all the major medication players, including stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Concerta, as well as nonstimulants like Strattera, Intuniv, and Wellbutrin.

Scroll through the chart and notice the different formulations. In terms of the two major stimulants, Methylphenidate and Amphetimines, the significant difference with the Dex formulations is essentially the delivery mechanism

MEDICATIONFORMULATIONCOMPOUNDDURATIONDOSING CONSIDERATIONSSAVINGS PROGRAM
METHYLPHENIDATE
Aptensio XR®
(Rhodes Pharmaceuticals)
Extended-release capsule
10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg
Capsule with multilayer beads; 40% of dose in the immediate-release layer and 60% in the extended-release layer (2nd peak at 7–8 hrs)12 hoursCapsule may be opened and contents swallowed completely with applesauceYES
Concerta® or generic
(Janssen and others)
Extended-release tablet
18 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg, 54 mg
Tablet with OROS osmotic pump technology; biphasic release with initial peak at 1 hr (22% of dose) and 78% gradual release over 9 hrs12 hoursMust be swallowed whole; non-absorbable shell may be passed in stoolYES
Cotempla XRODT™
(NEOS Therapeutics)
Extended-release orally disintegrating tablet
8.6 mg, 17.3 mg, 25.9 mg
Dissolving tablet with 25% immediate-release microparticles and 75% extended-release12-13 hoursGrape-flavored, allow to dissolve in salivaYES
Daytrana®
(Noven Therapeutics)
Transdermal patch
10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Drug dispersed in adhesive layer; applied daily10 hours with 9 hour wear-timeThe time worn can be varied to control the duration of effects; monitor for skin rash or sensitivity. Discard patches appropriatelyYES
JORNAY PM™
(Ironshore Pharmaceuticals)
Delayed release – Extended release capsule
20mg, 40mg, 60mg, 80mg, 100mg
Dual-layer delexis delivery: outer layer delays release for up to 10 hours, inner layer controls daytime release12 – 14 hoursTaken before going to sleep to provide early morning symptom controlYES
Metadate CD®
(UCB, Inc.)
Extended-release capsule
10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg
Diffucaps capsule with 30% immediate-release beads and 70% delayed-release beads*8-10 hoursCapsule may be opened and contents swallowed completely with applesauce
Methylphenidate HCI
(Lupin)
Chewable tablet
2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg
Methylphenidate HCl3-4 hoursGrape-flavored chewable tablet
Methylphenidate HCl
(Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals)
Extended-release tablet*
10 mg, 20 mg
Methylphenidate HCl6-8 hoursSwallow whole; do not crush or chew
Methylin™ Liquid or generic
(Shionogi Pharma and others)
Oral solution
5 mg/5 mL, 10 mg/5 mL
Methylphenidate HCl3-4 hoursColorless, grape-flavored liquid; store at room temperature
Quillichew ER™
(Pfizer)
Extended-release chewable tablet
20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg
30% of the dose is immediate-release and 70% extended-release12-13 hoursCherry-flavored; may be taken with or without foodYES
Quillivant XR®
(Pfizer)
Extended-release oral suspension
25 mg/5 mL
20% of the dose is immediate-release and 80% extended-release12-13 hoursFruit-flavored; may be taken with or without food. Shake bottle for at least 10 seconds. May be stored at room temperatureYES
Ritalin® or generic
(Novartis and others)
Short-acting, immediate-
release tablet
5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg
Methylphenidate HCl3-4 hoursAbrupt onset and offset increase the number and severity of side effects
Ritalin LA®
(Novartis)
Extended-release capsule
10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg
Capsule with Spheroidal Oral Drug Absorption System (SODA S) technology; 50% immediate-release beads and 50% delayed-release (2nd peak 4 hrs later)*8-12 hoursCapsule may be opened and contents swallowed completely with applesauce
Ritalin SR®
(Novartis)
Sustained-release tablet
20 mg
Methylphenidate HCl8 hoursTablets should be swallowed whole, never crushed or chewed
DEXMETHYLPHENIDATE
Focalin® or generic
(Novartis and others)
Short-acting, immediate-
release tablet*
2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg
Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride4-6 hoursIsolated active dextroisomer; give approximately 1/2 methylphenidate dose
Focalin XR®or generic
(Novartis and others)
Extended-release capsule
5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 40 mg
Capsule with SODA S technology; 50% of the beads contained in the capsule are immediate-release and 50% are delayed-release*8-12 hoursCapsule may be opened and beads swallowed completely with applesauceYES
AMPHETAMINE
Adzenys ER™
(Neos Therapeutics)
Extended-release oral suspension
1.25 mg/ml
50% immediate-release and 50% delayed-release particles10-12 hoursOrange-flavored; may be taken with or without food. Shake bottle vigorously before dispensing the dose.YES
Adzenys XR-ODT™
(Neos Therapeutics)
Extended-release orally disintegrating tablet
3.1 mg, 6.3 mg, 9.4 mg, 12.5 mg, 15.7 mg, 18.8 mg
Dissolving tablet with 50% immediate-release and 50% delayed-release particles10-12 hoursAllow tablet to dissolve in saliva.YES
Dyanavel® XR
(Tris Pharma)
Extended-release oral suspension
2.5 mg/ml
Oral solution with bubblegum flavor13 hoursBubblegum flavor; may be taken with or without food. Shake bottle before preparing the dose. May be stored at room temperatureYES
DEXTROAMPHETAMINE
Dexedrine®
(Amedra Pharmaceuticals and others)
Short-acting tablet
5 mg, 10 mg
Dextroamphetamine Sulfate3-4 hoursTake first dose on awakening
Dexedrine ER®
(Amedra Pharmaceuticals and others)
Extended-release spansule
5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg
Dextroamphetamine Sulfate delivered in a sustained-release spansule. Initial dose released immediately, remaining medication released gradually.5-10 hours
ProCentra® and generic
(Independence Pharma, Tris Pharma, and others)
Oral solution
5 mg/5 mL
Dextroamphetamine Sulfate3-6 hoursBubblegum flavor; may be taken with or without food. Shake bottle before preparing the dose. May be stored at room temperatureYES
Zenzedi®
(Arbor Pharmaceuticals)
Immediate-release tablet
2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Dextroamphetamine Sulfate4-6 hoursTake first dose on awakeningYES
METHAMPHETAMINE
Desoxyn®
(Recordati Rare Diseases and others)
Immediate-release tablet
5 mg
Methamphetamine4-6 hours
MIXED AMPHETAMINE SALTS
Adderall® or generic
(CorePharma and others)
Short-acting, immediate-release tablet
5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, Amphetamine Aspartate, Dextroamphetamine Sulfate and Amphetamine Sulfate4-6 hoursMay be taken with or without food
Adderall® XRor generic
(Shire and others)
Extended-release capsule
5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, 30 mg
Capsule with Microtrol delivery system: 50% immediate-release and 50% delayed-release beads*10-12 hoursCapsule may be opened and beads swallowed whole with applesauce
Mydayis®
(Shire Pharmaceuticals)
Long-acting capsule
12.5 mg, 25 mg, 37.5 mg, 50 mg
Long-acting, triple-bead, mixed amphetamine salts formulation14-16 hoursCapsule may be opened and beads swallowed whole with applesauceYES
AMPHETAMINE SULFATE
Evekeo®
(Arbor Pharmaceuticals)
Immediate-release tablet
5 mg, 10 mg
50 percent dextroamphetamine and 50 percent levoamphetamine4-6 hoursYES
LISDEXAMFETAMINE
Vyvanse®
(Shire Pharmaceuticals)
Long-acting capsule
10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg, 70 mg
Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate; peaks in 3.5 hrs*10-13 hoursCapsule may be opened and contents dissolved in water, yogurt, or orange juice; use immediately after dissolvingYES
Vyvanse®
(Shire Pharmaceuticals)
Chewable tablet
10 mg, 20 mg, 30mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, and 60 mg
Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate; peaks in 3.5 hrs*10-13 hoursStrawberry flavored; may be taken with or without food
ATOMOXETINE
Strattera®
(Lilly)
Long-acting capsule
10 mg, 18 mg, 25 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, 100 mg
All day atomoxetine24 hoursSelective norepinephrine inhibitor. Starts working in a few days to one week, but may take several weeks to achieve full effect. Swallow capsule whole; powder is irritating. Dose is commonly divided in two to lower side effectsYES
CLONIDINE
Kapvay®
(Concordia Pharmaceuticals)
Extended-release tablet
0.1 mg, 0.2 mg
Clonidine Hydrochloride24 hoursSwallow tablet whole
GUANFACINE
Intuniv™ or generic
(Shire and others)
Extended-release tablet
1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg, 4 mg
Guanfacine24 hoursSwallow tablet whole; a high-fat meal may increase absorption and lead to toxicity. FDA -approved for doses up to 7 mg YES
BUPROPION
Wellbutrin XL®
(Valeant Pharmaceuticals)
Extended-release tablet
150mg, 300mg
Bupropion HCL24 hoursLow efficacy; takes 8 weeks to fully develop benefits.YES

The chart was developed by Dr. William Dodson M.D.

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