June 10, 2002 -- The FDA has approved a once-daily form of Ritalin, one of the most popular drug treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The new drug form is expected to be available by late August and should eliminate the need for kids to take a dose at school.
Ritalin LA sustained-release tablets were approved on June 5, says Denise Brashear, a Novartis spokesperson. "We expect it be available by the start of school year 2002," she tells WebMD.
ADHD is a neurological disorder that interferes with an individual's ability to regulate activity level and behavior, and to sustain focus. "It's also the most studied childhood psychiatric disorder," says Brashear.
The new formulation -- which mimics twice-daily administration of Ritalin -- is not meant to be a replacement for standard Ritalin, she tells WebMD. "It's meant to just be another option for physicians."
Several drug companies already produce once-daily versions of methylphenidate, the chemical contained in Ritalin. In fact, those companies control about 30% of the market share of this drug, she says. "That shows there's really a need out there for a once-daily version."
The once-daily version makes dosage easier for kids and their parents, she says.
Right now, most children take a dose of Ritalin before school. Then at midday, they go to a school nurse for their second dose.
"Kids don't like the stigma attached to that," she tells WebMD. "They don't like to be different from the other kids."
For kids who can't take tablets, here's more good news: The capsule can be opened and the "beads" sprinkled on applesauce, she adds.