Differential effectiveness of methylphenidate and Adderall in school-age youths with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

by Manos MJ, Short EJ, Findling RL
Case Western Reserve University (CWRU)

School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA.
J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1999 Jul; 38(7):813-9


OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of a single dose of Adderall (q.d.) with that of 2 daily doses of methylphenidate (b.i.d.; MPH) as a treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in youths ranging in age from 5 to 17 years. Forty-two youths treated with MPH were compared with 42 youths treated with Adderall. Subjects were matched for age, sex, and DSM-IV diagnostic subtype.

METHOD: Youths were assigned to the Adderall or MPH condition by their prescribing physician. All youths were evaluated under 5 conditions, including baseline, placebo, 5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg. The best dose was assigned prior to breaking the medication blind and was assigned by the consensus of the psychologist and psychiatrist. Subjective ratings by both teachers and parents were examined for dosage level effects and medication type effects.

RESULTS: Best dose was always superior to baseline and placebo conditions. No differences between MPH and Adderall were observed on either teacher or parent ratings of behavior.

CONCLUSIONS: Both MPH and Adderall have been shown to be effective treatments for children with ADHD. Both medications appear to improve teachers’ and parents’ ratings of behavior. Single-dose treatments of Adderall appear to be as effective as 2 daily doses of MPH and therefore increase the possibility of managing treatment without involving the school in medication administration. In addition, youths who have previously been unsuccessfully treated with MPH because of adverse side effects or poor response may be successfully treated with Adderall.