New ADHD Drug May Be as Good as Ritalin
Atomoxetine Could Be First Drug Approved for Adults
"There is nothing in the science that would indicate to us that [atomoxetine] has any potential for abuse," Shaffer says. "But when you are talking about a medication given to children, it is appropriate for them to be extraordinarily cautious."
The company is seeking approval for the treatment of adults, as well as children and adolescents. If granted, it would be the first medication approved for use in adults with ADHD.
ADHD expert Martin T. Stein, MD, says atomoxetine may prove to be an effective treatment approach for the 15% of children who do not respond to either Ritalin or other stimulants. But he says there is, as yet, no reason to believe that children doing well on Ritalin would fare as well or better on the new drug.
"We will really only be able to compare these two drugs after several years of clinical use outside of studies," he says.
Stein, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, was co-chairman the American Academy of Pediatrics committee that published new guidelines for the treatment of ADHD late last year. The group concluded that the available stimulant drugs are highly effective, but it added that behavioral techniques should also be used in school-aged children with ADHD.
"Drugs are used far more often than behavioral modification because there is good evidence that they work and they are much easier to administer," he tells WebMD. "But behavior modification can be very effective, and that is a main message in our statement. I would definitely encourage parents to seek out these treatments, whether their child is on medication or not."