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PLoS One. 2014 Aug 22;9(8):e104175. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104175. eCollection 2014.

Atomoxetine effects on executive function as measured by the BRIEF--a in young adults with ADHD: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

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  • 1Departments of Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York University, New York, New York, United States of America.
  • 2Lilly USA, LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America.
  • 3inVentiv Health Clinical, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America.



To evaluate the effect of atomoxetine treatment on executive functions in young adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


In this Phase 4, multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, young adults (18-30 years) with ADHD were randomized to receive atomoxetine (20-50 mg BID, N = 220) or placebo (N = 225) for 12 weeks. The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult (BRIEF-A) consists of 75 self-report items within 9 nonoverlapping clinical scales measuring various aspects of executive functioning. Mean changes from baseline to 12-week endpoint on the BRIEF-A were analyzed using an ANCOVA model (terms: baseline score, treatment, and investigator).


At baseline, there were no significant treatment group differences in the percentage of patients with BRIEF-A composite or index T-scores ≥60 (p>.5), with over 92% of patients having composite scores ≥60 (≥60 deemed clinically meaningful for these analyses). At endpoint, statistically significantly greater mean reductions were seen in the atomoxetine versus placebo group for the BRIEF-A Global Executive Composite (GEC), Behavioral Regulation Index (BRI), and Metacognitive Index (MI) scores, as well as the Inhibit, Self-Monitor, Working Memory, Plan/Organize and Task Monitor subscale scores (p<.05), with decreases in scores signifying improvements in executive functioning. Changes in the BRIEF-A Initiate (p = .051), Organization of Materials (p = .051), Shift (p = .090), and Emotional Control (p = .219) subscale scores were not statistically significant. In addition, the validity scales: Inconsistency (p = .644), Infrequency (p = .097), and Negativity (p = .456) were not statistically significant, showing scale validity.


Statistically significantly greater improvement in executive function was observed in young adults with ADHD in the atomoxetine versus placebo group as measured by changes in the BRIEF-A scales.


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