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Concerta vs Ritalin

Drug facts and comparison

Concerta

methylphenidate

Ritalin

methylphenidate hydrochloride

Uses

  • To treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children aged six to 18
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To treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and narcolepsy

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Summary

Brand name: Concerta
Brand name: Ritalin
Manufacturer: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Manufacturer: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Active ingredient: methylphenidate
Active ingredient: methylphenidate hydrochloride
Indication: To treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children aged six to 18
Indication: To treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and narcolepsy

Side Effects

Most common

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling nervous
  • Mood changes
  • Irregular heartbeat

More serious

  • Allergic reactions
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal thoughts

Most common:

  • Sweating, increased blood pressure
  • Changes in mood, feeling anxious
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fast heartrate
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain
  • Headache, dizziness

More serious:

  • Chest pain, difficulty breathing, feeling faint
  • Hallucinations, aggression, hostility
  • Feeling numb, pain, unexplained wounds, changes in skin color
  • Painful penis erections lasting 4 hours or longer
  • Serotonin syndrome – agitation, hallucinations, sweating, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Reduced growth in children

Drug Interactions

Severe interactions
  • Opiates – tramadol
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) – selegiline, phenelzine
Serious interactions
  • Diuretics – bendroflumethiazide
  • ACE inhibitors – captopril, enalapril, ramipril
  • Calcium channel blockers – amlodipine, felodipine, nifedipine
  • Beta-blockers – atenolol, bisoprolol, propranolol, sotalol
  • Antidepressants – citalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline
Moderate interactions
  • Immunosuppressants – cyclosporine
  • Anticoagulants – warfarin
Severe interactions
  • Opioid analgesics – tramadol
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors – isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline
Serious interactions
  • Calcium channel blockers – amlodipine, felodipine, nifedipine, diltiazem, verapamil
  • Diuretics – Bendroflumethiazide
  • Beta-blockers – atenolol, bisoprolol, propranolol, sotalol
  • ACE inhibitors – captopril, enalapril, ramipril
  • Antidepressants – citalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline
Moderate interactions
  • Anticonvulsants – phenobarbital, phenytoin
  • Blood thinners – warfarin

Warnings

You should not use Concerta if you:

  • Are allergic to the active ingredient methylphenidate
  • Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Concerta
  • Are under six years of age
  • Have thyroid problems
  • Have glaucoma
  • Have a heart condition
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have problems with the blood vessels in your brain
  • Have mental health conditions like schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, mania, severe depression, or an eating disorder

You should talk to your doctor before using Concerta if you:

  • Have a liver or kidney condition
  • Have a narrowing or blockage in your food pipe or gut
  • Have ever had seizures or an abnormal brain scan (ECG)
  • Are female and have started your periods
  • Have a mental health problem where you experience mood swings, hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, or depression
  • Are about to have an operation
  • Are intolerant to some sugars
  • Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed

You should not take Ritalin if you:

  • Are allergic to the active ingredient methylphenidate
  • Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Ritalin
  • Have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days
  • Have glaucoma
  • Have severe high blood pressure or a heart problems
  • Have an overactive thyroid
  • Have a personal or family history of tics or Tourette’s syndrome
  • Have severe anxiety, tension, or agitation
  • Are younger than 6 years old

You should talk to your doctor before using Ritalin if you:

  • Have heart problems or a congenital heart defect
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a family history of heart disease or sudden death
  • Have depression, mental illness, bipolar disorder, psychosis, or suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Have blood circulation problems in your hands or feet
  • Suffer from alcohol or drug addiction
  • Have problems with your esophagus, stomach, or intestines
  • Suffer from seizures
  • Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed

Dosage

Once daily

Two or three times daily

Cost

30 Concerta tablets, 45 mg will cost around $370

 

100 Ritalin tablets, 5 mg will cost around $80

FAQs

According to the National Institute on Mental Health, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. Concerta and Ritalin are brand names for prescription drugs both classed as CNS (central nervous system) stimulant medications thought to work by increasing the concentration of two neurotransmitters (dopamine and norepinephrine) in the brain.

Concerta and Ritalin are both Schedule II controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II substances have a high potential for drug abuse, which can lead to dependence both psychologically and physically.

Here we will explain how they work, their similarities and differences, their side effects, and more. This should provide you with the basics to better understand your options.

What is Concerta?

Concerta is an FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved ADHD medication manufactured by Janssen. It is a prescription drug used for ADHD treatment in children aged 6 to 18, and sometimes in adults too. The medication is taken orally as a tablet. Your physician will decide how often you take it and at what dose.

ADHD is a condition that causes differences in brain development and activity. The most common effects of this are inattention, impulsive behavior, excess energy, and difficulties with controlling your emotions. It usually emerges and is diagnosed in childhood, often between the ages of 6 and 12. It can be diagnosed later in life though. ADHD can be very disruptive to your life, affecting performance at school and in the workplace, as well as interfering in your home and social life.

Concerta helps with ADHD by affecting your brain activity. The medication increases activity in certain regions of your brain, improving your attention, helping you focus, making you less impulsive, and easing other symptoms of ADHD. Concerta is often used alongside other treatments, like counseling and behavioral therapy.

The active ingredient in Concerta is called methylphenidate. This helps with brain activity by increasing the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in your brain. These two substances are naturally produced in your brain and they help to send signals between your neurons.

Usually, excess norepinephrine and dopamine are reabsorbed by the neurons that make it. Methylphenidate blocks this from happening though, allowing levels of these substances to increase. Higher levels of norepinephrine and dopamine enhance communication between your neurons, increasing brain activity. This is associated with improvements in thinking and behavior, like increased attention and reduced impulsivity.

Concerta dosage

Concerta is available in extended-release tablet form, in the following doses: 18, 27, 36, and 54 mg.

Concerta should be taken in the morning once daily, with or without food. It should be swallowed whole with water. It should not be chewed or crushed. The recommended starting dose is 18 mg once daily for children and adolescents new to methylphenidate, and 18 to 36 mg/day in adults. The dose may be increased at weekly intervals to a maximum of 54 mg/day in children and 72 mg/day in adolescents and adults.

For additional safety information, read the full prescribing information and medication guide. Always speak with a healthcare professional for medical advice about any changes to your dose so they can monitor and evaluate your condition.

What is Ritalin?

Ritalin is an FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved medication manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. It is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant also used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. The active ingredient of Ritalin is also methylphenidate hydrochloride.

Ritalin dosage

Ritalin is available as an immediate-release formulation tablet in 5mg, 10mg, and 20 mg, and as an extended-release (long-acting) tablet in 20 mg.

Your daily dose and maximum daily dose will be based on your age. Ritalin tablets must be swallowed whole and never crushed or chewed.

Common side effects of Concerta and Ritalin

The most common side effects of Concerta in clinical trials include:

  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling nervous
  • Mood changes
  • Irregular heartbeat

More serious side effects of Concerta include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • Priapism (prolonged, painful erection)
  • Potential for gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Psychological issues like paranoia and suicidal thoughts

The most common side effects of Ritalin in clinical trials include:

  • Sweating and increased blood pressure
  • Changes in mood, feeling anxious
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fast heart rate
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain
  • Headache, dizziness

More serious side effects of Ritalin include

  • Risk of heart attack and stroke in adults
  • Chest pain, difficulty breathing, feeling faint
  • Hallucinations, aggression, hostility
  • Feeling numb, pain, unexplained wounds, changes in skin color
  • Painful penis erections lasting 4 hours or longer
  • Serotonin syndrome – agitation, hallucinations, sweating, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Reduced growth in children

These aren’t all the side effects Concerta or Ritalin can cause. You can find more details in the patient leaflet that comes with your medication. If you have any concerns about side effects, talk to your physician or pharmacist.

Concerta and Ritalin drug interactions

Concerta can interact with other medications. These include:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) antidepressants
  • Medicines for Parkinson’s disease, like levodopa
  • Medicines for epilepsy
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Blood-thinning medications
  • Cough or cold remedies that can affect blood pressure

Ritalin can interact with other medications. These include:

  • Opioid analgesics
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Beta-blockers
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Blood thinners

Concerta and Ritalin can interact with other medications. This can change how Concerta and Ritalin and other medications work and can make side effects more likely. Tell your prescribing physician about all your drugs, including vitamins and dietary supplements.

Concerta and Ritalin contraindications

You should not use Concerta if you:

  • Are allergic to the active ingredient methylphenidate
  • Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Concerta
  • Are under six years of age
  • Have thyroid problems
  • Have glaucoma
  • Have a heart condition
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have problems with the blood vessels in your brain
  • Have tics or Tourette’s syndrome
  • Have mental health conditions like schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, mania, severe depression, or an eating disorder

Talk to your doctor before using Concerta if you:

  • Have a liver or kidney condition
  • Have a narrowing or blockage in your food pipe or gut
  • Have ever had seizures or an abnormal brain scan (ECG)
  • Are female and have started your periods
  • Have a mental health problem where you experience mood swings, hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, or depression
  • Are about to have an operation
  • Are intolerant to some sugars
  • Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed

You should not use Ritalin if you:

  • Are allergic to the active ingredient methylphenidate
  • Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Ritalin
  • Have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days
  • Have glaucoma
  • Have severe high blood pressure or a heart problem
  • Have an overactive thyroid
  • Have a personal or family history of tics or Tourette’s syndrome
  • Have severe anxiety, tension, or agitation
  • Are younger than 6 years old

Talk to your doctor before using Ritalin if you:

  • Have heart problems or a congenital heart defect
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a family history of heart disease or sudden death
  • Have depression, mental illness, bipolar disorder, psychosis, or suicidal thoughts or action
  • Have blood circulation problems in your hands or feet
  • Suffer from alcohol or drug addiction
  • Have problems with your esophagus, stomach, or intestines
  • Suffer from seizures
  • Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed

Other drugs for ADHD

If you have any concerns about Concerta or Ritalin side effects, talk to your physician, or pharmacist for medical advice. Also inform your healthcare provider about any medical conditions, supplements, and over-the-counter meds you are taking. You are also encouraged to report side effects to the FDA: visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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