ADHD Home > Alternatives to Ritalin
Currently, there are only two non-stimulant medications approved for the treatment of ADHD: Strattera® (atomoxetine) and Intuniv™ (guanfacine ER). The other medications listed below are not approved for ADHD, and are usually used when other approved medications have failed.
Strattera was the first non-stimulant approved for the treatment of ADHD. The drug is approved for children age 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. Also, 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 age 6 though 17 years old; 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), your child's healthcare provider may suggest a medicine that is considered "off-label" for the treatment of ADHD. Off-label is when a prescription medicine is used to treat a disease or condition for which the drug has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
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 in an off-label fashion: for different conditions, in different doses, or for different lengths of time.
The following are medications that have not been approved for the treatment of ADHD but that are sometimes used to treat it:
- 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®).