Which medications in the drug class Stimulants are used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Updated: Oct 01, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
  • Print


These agents are known to treat ADHD effectively.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Metadate CD, Methylin ER, Ritalin SR, Cotempla XR-ODT, Jornay PM)

Methylphenidate is the drug of choice approved by FDA for ADHD in children aged 6 years or older. It is the most commonly used drug. Methylphenidate is available in sustained-release forms. It is also available as a delayed-release bedtime dosage form.

Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin, Focalin XR)

Dexmethylphenidate contains the more pharmacologically active d-enantiomer of racemic methylphenidate. It blocks norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake into presynaptic neurons and increases the release of these monamines into extraneuronal spaces. To allow once-daily dosing, each extended-release (XR) capsule contains half the dose as immediate-release capsules and half as enteric-coated, delayed-release capsules.

Dextroamphetamine and amphetamine mixtures (Adderall, Mydayis)

Dextroamphetamine and amphetamine mixtures produce CNS and respiratory stimulation. The CNS effect may occur in the cerebral cortex and reticular activating system. This combination may have direct effects on both alpha- and beta-receptor sites in the peripheral system, as well as release stores of norepinephrine in adrenergic nerve terminals.

The mixture contains various salts of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is available as 5-, 7.5-, 10-, 12.5-, 15-, 20-, and 30-mg scored tablets. The extended release form is also available as 12.5 mg, 25 mg, 37.5mg, and 50 mg capsules.

Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)

Dextroamphetamine is commonly used first or in case of methylphenidate failure. It is approved by the FDA for use in children aged 3 years or older. It is available in sustained-release forms, which may allow for daily dosing.

Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)

Lisdexamfetamine is an inactive prodrug of dextroamphetamine. It elicits CNS stimulant activity. Lisdexamfetamine blocks norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake in presynaptic neurons and increases release of these monoamines in extraneuronal spaces. It is indicated for initial and maintenance treatment of ADHD for children aged 6-17 years and adults.

Amphetamine (Dyanavel XR, Evekeo)

Noncatecholamine, sympathomimetic amine that elicits CNS stimulant activity. The precise mechanism by which amphetamines produce mental and behavioral effects are unclear. Available as short-acting tablets (Evekeo) that need 2-3 doses/day in children aged 3 years or older. It is also available as a long-acting, once daily oral suspension (Dyanavel XR) or extended release oral disintegrating tablets (Adzenys XR-ODT) for patients aged 6 years or older.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!