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Concerta® is a form of methylphenidate, which is known by other brand names like Ritalin®. It is a stimulant that is primarily used to treat attention deficit disorder, and attention hyperactivity deficit disorder (ADD and ADHD). It may occasionally be used for other reasons. Concerta® may be distinguished from Ritalin because of its pattern of release; it’s a controlled release formula that may assure a fairly constant supply of the medication. The release mechanism of Concerta® makes it fairly new to the ADHD list of treatments, and it will retain a patent until 2018, which means it can be more expensive.
Methylphenidate, in any form, is useful in the treatment of ADHD because it helps to stimulate production of norepinephrine and dopamine. These neurotransmitters help to modulate the symptoms of ADHD. Norepinephrine can increase ability to pay attention and to concentrate, and dopamine may reduce feelings of restlessness. There are other ADHD medications that may have similar affect, and when something like Concerta® doesn’t work, alternatives may be recommended. Not all people will respond well to methylphenidate, and Concerta® may not be the first version of methylphenidate considered if price of the medication is prohibitive to a patient.
Concerta® may also not be considered if a person has certain conditions. The medication is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, glaucoma, anxiety disorder, history or tics or Tourette Syndrome, or most heart conditions. The medication should not be combined with certain other medications including monoamine oxidase inhibitors, blood thinners, antidepressants, other stimulants, and some seizure medications.
Medications to treat ADHD are serious, and they can have serious risks and side effects. In particular, Concerta® has been associated with sudden cardiac death. It should not be used in people with serious heart defects, but these don’t necessarily need to be present in order to cause heart problems from the drug. There is also potential for development of sudden mania if people who are bipolar take this medication. Though these warnings are extremely grave, it needs to be understood that few people will have a life-threatening or dangerous response. However, it’s a good idea to simply discuss all medications and medical history before accepting a prescription for this drug.
There are some more common side effects that may occur when the medication is first taken and that may go away over time. These could include poor appetite, poor sleep, a sense of nervousness, weight loss, mild rash, dizziness, poor growth, stomachache, headache, and a tingly sensation in hands or feet. Should any of these persist, people should mention this to their physician.
Concerta® can create mild dependency and people should never share this medication with others. They should also not stop this medication without a doctor’s guidance. Care should be taken to be certain this medication is out of the reach of children, since overdose is extremely dangerous.