Some psychiatrists worry about a new, chewable ADHD drug

Some psychiatrists worry about a new, chewable ADHD drug

Is the latest ADHD drug a new, enticing drug of abuse? Or is it simply another way to help children who are coping with a stressful disorder?

Adzenys XR-ODT is a drug that combines d- and l-amphetamine, two central nervous system stimulants that can help mitigate the symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unlike other ADHD drugs, Adzenys is administered via a flavored, dissolvable tablet. Since many children have difficulties taking pills — including those with ADHD — this drug is designed to make childhood treatment less stressful.

Unfortunately, the fact that this new drug resembles candy more than a pill has some psychiatrists worried. Mukund Gnanadesikan, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist in private practice in California, is one of them.

“I’m not a big fan of controlled substances that come in forms that can be easily abused — and certainly a chewable drug falls into that category,” explains Gnanadesikan. He also adds that making amphetamines tasty and chewable is “a recipe for people to request it and then sell it.”

While ADHD drugs can be lifesaving to people with the condition, the stimulants prescribed for the disorder are often used as party drugs or study aids by people without it. It’s possible that this new drug will attract younger users due to its candy-like qualities, perhaps serving as a gateway for even more dangerous drugs down the line.

It’s also possible that these fears are unfounded.

Ben Biermann, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, remains skeptical of the new drug’s abuse potential. He believes that people who abuse ADHD medication won’t care about how it’s presented — they’d want the drug no matter the packaging.

“There’s nothing revolutionary about this drug,” said Biermann. “It’s simply another delivery mechanism for a medication that already exists and has widespread use.”

Will Adzenys make it easier for young children with ADHD to comply with their treatment? Or will it cause amphetamine abuse to skyrocket? We’ll have to find out.

In January, the FDA approved Adzenys for treatment of ADHD in children 6 years and older. The most common side effects are stomachache, loss of appetite, insomnia and weight loss. Adzenys only needs to be taken once a day to be effective.

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About the author

Courtney Lopresti, M.S., is a senior staff writer, she uses her scientific background to write online blogs and articles for a general audience. At the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her master’s in neuroscience, she used functional neuroimaging to study how the human cerebellum contributes to language processing. In her spare time, she writes fiction, reads Oliver Sacks and spends time with her two cats and bird. Courtney is currently located in Minneapolis. 

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