Strattera atomoxetine for ADD by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
February 24, 2016

Strattera is the first non-stimulant prescription medication approved for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents, and adults. Strattera is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, a class of ADHD treatment that works differently from the other ADHD medications available. Strattera is available by prescription only. Children with ADHD are often treated with the stimulant drug Ritalin, but Strattera, a nonstimulant, has appeal for use in older children and adolescents with ADHD; it is dosed once daily, limited abuse potential, and has a long duration of action.


Strattera for ADHD

Strattera appears to continue to work well for teens with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) over at least two years, with no major side effects. Dr. Timothy E. Wilens from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, says: "Given that Strattera is relatively new to the market, our longer term findings in adolescents are reassuring in that the medication continues to be effective without evidence of tolerance and is well tolerated." The study was supported by Eli Lilly and Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, maker of Strattera.
Dr. Sahelian says: I would like to wait at least five years of clinical use of Strattera before being as confident as Dr. Timothy Wilens regarding its safety.

Strattera side effects
The most common Strattera side effects are nausea, stomach ache, and headache. Rare cases of liver damage have been noted.

N Engl J Med. November 14 2013. Clinical practice: Adult attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Volkow ND, Swanson JM. Short-term trials involving adults with ADHD have shown significant improvements in symptoms with stimulants and atomoxetine; however, data on long-term benefits and risks of these medications, particularly among older persons, have been insufficient.


Misuse, abuse
There has been an increase in diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with approximately 9% of American children now diagnosed, and a concomitant increase in the use of stimulants (eg, amphetamines, methylphenidate) to manage ADHD. Nonstimulant drugs (eg, atomoxetine Strattera, guanfacine, clonidine) also are used, but most patients are treated with stimulants. Widespread use has resulted in prescription stimulants being diverted for nonmedical uses, particularly by high school and college students seeking cognitive enhancement for improved academic performance.