Focalin XR for ADHD

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Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride) is an oral, extended-release stimulant approved for treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for children ages 6-12, teenagers, and adults. It is the same medication as Focalin, which has therapeutic effects typically lasting for 4 hours, while the therapeutic effects of the Focalin XR formulation typically last for 12 hours. Focalin XR begins to work an average of 45 minutes after it is taken.

How to Use Focalin XR

Focalin XR is available in 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40-mg capsules. Because it is a long-acting formulation, is recommended for once per day dosing.

If you or your child is given a prescription for Focalin XR, it should be taken in the morning. It can be taken with or without food. You should not cut or chew the capsule because this will interfere with its ability to be properly absorbed by your body.

This medication uses a mechanism called SODAS (Spheroidal Oral Drug Absorption System) so that if you have a hard time swallowing it, the capsule can be opened, the contents sprinkled in food, and then it should be swallowed without chewing.

If you're worried about the cost of the medication, your pediatrician may have a voucher for a free trial of Focalin XR. Focalin XR Savings Cards are also available online.

Focalin XR In ADHD Treatment

ADHD is a disorder of the brain that can cause inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. If you have ADHD, you might have difficulty sustaining focus, staying organized, sitting still, and delaying gratification. The average age of diagnosis for ADHD is seven years old. The most common treatment has been prescription strength stimulant medications, which are believed to maintain alertness, helping people with ADHD concentrate and focus.

Long Acting Stimulants

Long-acting or extended-release stimulants have been considered advantageous because they can be taken fewer times per day, reducing the risk of missed doses or symptom fluctuations throughout the day. Adderall XR, Vyvanse, Ritalin LA, Concerta, and Daytrana (Ritalin patch) are all examples of long-acting stimulants commonly used for the treatment of ADHD.

However, when you consider that Daytrana, Ritalin LA, and Concerta are all long-acting forms of Ritalin (methylphenidate), the number of choices is not quite as extensive as it appears in terms of the pharmacological action of these medications.

Like other once-a-day or extended-release ADHD medications, Focalin XR lasts throughout the entire school day.

How Focalin XR Works

Focalin and Focalin XR are composed of dexmethylphenidate HCL, an isomer of the active ingredient in Ritalin, methylphenidate. Isomers are nearly identical forms of a molecule that differ in the arrangement of their atoms, which can make them act differently in the body. The idea behind Focalin is that the dexmethylphenidate HCl isomer in Focalin may have a more potent therapeutic effect than the methylphenidate in Ritalin, and may produce fewer side effects.

Because of this difference, Focalin is often prescribed at half the dose of Ritalin, with equivalent therapeutic effects.

Focalin XR vs. Focalin and Other ADHD Stimulants

The recommended dose of Focalin XR is the same as the total dose of Focalin. For example, if you or your child has taken Focalin 10 mg twice per day, then the Focalin XR dose would be 20 mg once per day.

At this time, there have not been convincing studies proving that Focalin is better or safer than Ritalin, Adderall, or other stimulants. Generally, Focalin is most often compared to Ritalin in clinical studies, and the long-acting forms of each medication are compared with each other. So far, it appears that Focalin XR is as efficacious and safe as Ritalin LA and should be used at half the dose of Ritalin LA.

A Word From Verywell

There are a number of medications approved for treatment of ADHD, and choosing the right one can be confusing. Your doctor will determine which medication is most likely to be the right fit for you, but if your symptoms do not improve, or if you experience side effects, your medication can be changed to another one that may have a better effect.

Often, behavioral therapy is another option that can be used for the treatment of ADHD, either instead of or in addition to, prescription medications.