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ADHD: New Pharmacological Treatments on the Horizon

LÓPEZ, FRANK A. M.D.

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: October 2006 - Volume 27 - Issue 5 - p 410-416
REVIEW ARTICLE
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ABSTRACT. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurobehavioral disorder affecting school-age children. In many cases, symptoms persist into adolescence and adulthood, causing significant lifelong impairments in academic, career, and social functioning. The stimulants methylphenidate and amphetamines have been used for decades as first-line therapy for the treatment of ADHD. Short-acting stimulant formulations control symptoms only for a few hours, creating the need for multiple daily doses of the medication. For school-age children, this necessitates administering medication during school hours, creating the potential for embarrassment and noncompliance. To offset these problems, longer acting stimulant formulations have been developed. Long-acting medications often control symptoms for up to 8 hours with only one daily dose of the medication, eliminating the need for in-school administration. Some long-acting stimulants are designed to control symptoms for up to 10 to 12 hours. Although stimulants are effective in most cases, some children are unable to tolerate these medications. Nonstimulant options are available for the treatment of ADHD and include atomoxetine, α-adrenergic agents, and antidepressants. Of these, atomoxetine is the only medication approved to treat ADHD. In spite of the number of medications available for the management of ADHD, treatment options with greater flexibility and reduced side effects are still desirable. A transdermal methylphenidate patch has recently been approved, and advances to existing stimulants currently under development include an amphetamine prodrug and a longer acting formulation of amphetamine. In addition, a number of nonstimulant entities, including guanfacine and modafinil, are under development for the treatment of ADHD.

Children's Development Center, Winter Park, Florida

Received July 2005; accepted June 2006.

Address for reprints: Frank A. López, M.D., Children's Developmental Center, 1992 Mizel Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32792; e-mail: falopezmd@att.net.

Potential conflicts of interest: Dr. López has received research grants and consultant fees from Cephalon Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, Novartis, and Shire. He has participated on the speaker's bureau of Novartis and Shire.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.