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CNS Drugs

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 213–237 | Cite as

Adverse Effects of Pharmacotherapies for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Epidemiology, Prevention and Management
  • Johnny GrahamEmail author
  • David Coghill
Review Article

Abstract

Medication for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is in widespread use globally. There is considerable data suggesting that overall, the adverse effect burden from this use is dose dependent and is in the mild to moderate category, but few comprehensive reviews exist of the epidemiology of adverse effects alone. This review provides a general and systems-specific summary of the scientific literature regarding adverse effect data for the drugs in general use for the treatment of ADHD.

Although several areas lack definitive data, current evidence suggests that, for the majority of those treated for ADHD, the medications currently available pose little in the way of risk of significant harm. Epidemiological data suggest a low incidence of serious adverse effects, whilst the less serious adverse effects, such as insomnia and anorexia, are relatively common. Also, some specific areas of study suggest lower risks of harm than previously thought, e.g. tic disorders and seizures. However, pre-existing conditions and other interindividual differences may raise the risk of harmful adverse effects, which adds emphasis to the need for careful pretreatment assessment and monitoring. Potential but unlikely long-term treatment effects need to be investigated as carefully as possible, particularly with regard to cardiac sequelae and carcinogenesis. There are both overlaps and differences between the adverse effects of stimulants and nonstimulants, such as atomoxetine. For example, the latter shares the stimulant group’s potential for changing cardiovascular parameters, but may not cause insomnia.

Keywords

Methylphenidate ADHD Symptom Atomoxetine Modafinil Stimulant Medication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Dr Graham was sponsored by UCB to attend the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry annual meeting in San Diego, USA, in 2006 and at the same time attended group consultations with UCB. Dr Coghill has acted as a consultant, attended advisory boards, received research funding and received honoraria from several pharmaceutical companies that make medications used to treat ADHD (Janssen Cilag, Eli Lilly, Shire, UCB, Medice and Cephalon). No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review.

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© Adis Data Information BV 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of Dundee, Section of Psychiatry, Division of Pathology and Neuroscience, Ninewells HospitalDundeeScotland

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