Generic Medications That Are Used to Treat ADHD

Save Money With These ADHD Options

Most commonly, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed in children, and this condition often persists through adolescence and later adulthood.  Children with ADHD fall into 3 categories:

  • primarily hyperactive-impulsive
  • primarily inattentive
  • a combination. 

Although some people with ADHD, "outgrow" the disease, it's estimated that as many as 80 percent of individuals carry the condition through adulthood.

  Of note, adults with ADHD are by and large not hyperactive and instead inattentive. 

A number of medications are used to treat ADHD. The medications that are most commonly prescribed to treat ADHD are stimulants and include many brand-name drugs.  However, lower-cost generic alternatives also exist. 

(The use of stimulants to treat adults with ADHD is poorly understood.  Despite accounts of stimulants working in adults, concerns about efficacy and safety of stimulant use in this population cloud the picture.  Specifically, some research suggests that adults with ADHD who take stimulants are at increased risk for palpitations, anxiety and increases in blood pressure.)

Here is a list of medications used to treat ADHD.  Please note that I listed the brand name first followed by the generic designation in parentheses.

  • Adderall and Adderall XR (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine)
  • Concerta (methylphenidate)
  • Daytrana (methylphenidate)
  • Desoxyn (methamphetamine)
  • Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
  • Focalin and Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate)
  • Intuniv (guanfacine)
  • Metadate CD and Metadate ER (methylphenidate)
  • Methylin and Methylin ER (methylphenidate)
  • Ritalin, Ritalin LA and Ritalin SR (methylphenidate)
  • Quillivant XR (methylphenidate)
  • Strattera (atomoxetine)
  • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)

Of note, the XR, ER and LR designations indicate extended-release preparations.  Furthermore, Ritalin SR is a controlled release form of Ritalin.  Finally, all these drugs except Intuniv are stimulants.  (Intuniv is an antiadrenergic medication which acts on the sympathetic nervous system to decrease blood pressure.  It is used to treat hypertension and ADHD.)

Of the medications listed above, only Intuniv, Quillivant XR, Strattera and Vyvanse are brand name.  All other medications can be purchased as generics.

As you probably know, brand-name drugs can get pretty pricey.  Generic medications are low-cost alternatives which work just as well as brand-name drugs and have been scrutinized and approved by the FDA, too. 

For example, as of June 2015, a 10-mg tablet of Focalin costs about $1.40.  A 10-mg tablet of dexmethylphenidate, on the other hand, costs $0.63.  If you do the math, it's apparent that switching to such generic medications can save you thousands of bucks on ADHD treatment a year.

Furthermore, as compared with generic equivalents, it can cost multiple times more to purchase extended-release preparations.  Although it's more convenient to take extended-release iterations because fewer doses are needed, you can save lots of money by switching to shorter-acting alternatives.

If you're having trouble paying for ADHD medications, immediately inform the prescribing physician and ask about generic alternatives.  The physician can offer you options and alternatives that will lower the cost of ADHD medications.  For example, CVS/Caremark -- like many other large pharmacy retailers -- offers a value formulary which can be prescribed from for cheap. Moreover, patient assistance programs are also available in many communities.  These programs can greatly subsidize the cost of treatment.

Selected Sources

Ropper AH, Samuels MA, Klein JP. Chapter 28. Normal Development and Deviations in Development of the Nervous System. In: Ropper AH, Samuels MA, Klein JP. eds. Adams & Victor's Principles of Neurology, 10eSearight H, Shinabarger C. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In: Feldman MD, Christensen JF,

Satterfield JM. eds. Behavioral Medicine: A Guide for Clinical Practice, 4e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014.   Accessed June 09, 2015.. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014. Accessed June 09, 2015.


Continue Reading