ADHD Home > Ritalin LA

Ritalin LA is commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The medicine reduces hyperactivity and inattention in children with the condition by affecting chemicals in the brain to produce a calming effect. The drug comes in capsule form and releases half of the medication immediately and the other half about four hours later. Potential side effects of Ritalin LA include headache, insomnia, and loss of appetite.

What Is Ritalin LA?

Ritalin LA® (methylphenidate extended-release) is a prescription medication that is used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin LA capsules are specially designed to release half of the medication immediately and the second half after approximately four hours, allowing the medication to be taken just once a day.
Because Ritalin LA is a stimulant and is commonly abused, there are special rules for prescribing it (see Ritalin: A Controlled Substance).
(Click Ritalin LA Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses for the drug.)

Who Makes Ritalin LA?

It is manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

How Does It Work?

Ritalin LA is a stimulant, although it has effects that are opposite from what would be expected of a stimulant. While stimulants (like caffeine) can cause hyperactivity, Ritalin LA has a calming effect. While it is not known exactly how the drug achieves this, it is known that the drug affects certain chemicals in the brain (see Methylphenidate and D2 Receptors).
Ritalin LA capsules consist of tiny beads that contain the medication. Half of these are immediate-release beads, and the other half are delayed-release beads, which do not dissolve until they reach the small intestine (about four hours later). This allows the medication to be taken just once a day (instead of twice a day).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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