Currently, there are only two nonstimulant medications approved for treating ADHD: Strattera® (atomoxetine) and Intuniv™ (guanfacine ER). The other medications listed below are not approved for ADHD and are usually used only when approved medications have failed to control the condition.
Strattera was the first nonstimulant approved for the treatment of ADHD. The medication is approved for children six and older, adolescents, and adults. Unlike most other ADHD medications, Strattera is not a controlled substance, which means that it is unlikely to be abused.
In addition, because it is not a controlled substance, the rules for prescribing and dispensing this medication are much less strict. Unlike prescriptions for stimulants, Strattera prescriptions can be faxed or phoned to your pharmacy and can be refilled without getting a new prescription each time (if your healthcare provider approves).
Intuniv is approved for treating ADHD in individuals 6 though 17 years of age; it is not yet approved for use in adults. Like Strattera, it is not a controlled substance. Intuniv is a long-acting form of guanfacine. The short-acting version of guanfacine (Tenex®) is approved for treating high blood pressure and has been used for quite some time in an "off-label" fashion for treating ADHD.
Off-Label ADHD Medications
Sometimes, when approved ADHD medications do not work for a child (or cannot be taken due to side effects), the child's healthcare provider may suggest a medicine that is considered "off-label" for the treatment of ADHD. These "off-label" medications have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating ADHD.
Although the FDA regulates how a medication can be advertised or promoted by the manufacturer, these regulations do not restrict a healthcare provider's ability to prescribe the medication for different conditions, in different doses, or for different lengths of time than have been approved by the FDA. The practice of prescribing medications for periods of time or for conditions not FDA-approved is known as an "off-label" use of such drugs.
The following are medications that have not been approved for the treatment of ADHD but are sometimes used to treat the condition:
- Bupropion (Aplenzin™, Budeprion SR®, Budeprion XL®, Buproban®, Forfivo™ XL, Wellbutrin®, Wellbutrin SR®, Wellbutrin XL®, Zyban®)
- Clonidine (Catapres®)
- Desipramine (Norpramin®)
- Short-acting guanfacine (Tenex®)
- Imipramine (Tofranil®)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor®, Effexor XR®).