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Methylphenidate, available in tablets as Ritalin, Attenta, Methylin, Metadate, Equasym, Rubifen, and Motiron, in capsules as Concerta, Ritalin, Metadate, and Biphentin, in patches as Daytrana, or in generic form, is the most widely prescribed psychostimulant. It is used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and off-label for depression, lethargy, obesity, and neural insult.
Methylphenidate is a central nervous system stimulant thought to work through dopaminergic stimulation in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter with important roles in cognition and behavior.
In July 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directed the makers of all drugs approved for the treatment of ADHD to develop patient Medication Guides that include warnings of risks of adverse psychiatric symptoms and possible cardiovascular risks associated with the medicines, and precautions that can be taken.
Drugs cited in addition to those that contain methylphenidate include Adderall, Desoxyn, Dexedrine, Focalin, and Strattera.
Patient Medication Guides are handouts given to patients, caregivers and families when a medicine is dispensed. They contain FDA-approved information that could help prevent serious adverse events.
The action taken by the FDA was prompted in part by an agency review of reports of sudden death in patients with underlying serious heart problems or defects, reports of serious cardiovascular adverse events in patients taking usual doses of ADHD medications, and reports of heart attack and stroke in adults with certain risk factors.
Other potential side effects associated with Ritalin and other drugs containing methylphenidate include:
- fast, uneven, or pounding heartbeats
- a feeling that one might pass out
- fever, headache, or sore throat with a severe red, blistering, or peeling skin rash
- unusual behavior including restlessness, aggression, or hallucinations
- muscle twitches
- easy bruising
- purple spots on the skin
- dangerously high blood pressure (symptoms include severe headache, blurred vision, anxiety, confusion, buzzing in the ears, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure)
- stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
- numbness, tingling, or cold feeling in hands or feet
- sleep problems
- weight loss
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of taking Ritalin or another ADHD drug or medication containing methylphenidate, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a qualified pharmaceutical injury attorney for an evaluation of your case.