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Methylphenidate

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Absorbed through the skin

Methylphenidate transdermal is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It belongs to the group of medicines called central nervous… Read more

Brand names include: Daytrana

By mouth

Methylphenidate is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It belongs to the group of medicines called central nervous system (CNS)… Read more

Brand names include: Aptensio XR, Concerta

Drug classes About this
CNS Stimulant, Central Nervous System Agent

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Benefits and harms of methylphenidate for children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

We reviewed the evidence of the effects of methylphenidate on the behaviour of children and adolescents with ADHD.

Effect of methylphenidate for inattentiveness, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity in children aged 6 to 18 years with autistic spectrum disorder

Children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) often have trouble paying attention, acting impulsively and sitting still. Methylphenidate, a stimulant drug, is often prescribed to treat children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who also have these problems, so it is important to know how well it works for children with ASD.

A systematic review and economic model of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of methylphenidate, dexamfetamine and atomoxetine for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (including hyperkinetic disorder) is defined by the 'core' signs of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, and is characterised by an early onset. The estimated prevalence for ADHD in school-aged children varies widely (e.g. 3-7%), being dependent on a number of variables, including the methods of ascertainment, the informants, the population sampled, the diagnostic criteria applied and the sex of the affected individual. Data on prevalence in adolescence and adulthood are limited. The disorder is frequently observed in greater numbers of males than females, with ratios ranging from 2:1 to 9:1 depending on subtype and setting.

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Summaries for consumers

Benefits and harms of methylphenidate for children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

We reviewed the evidence of the effects of methylphenidate on the behaviour of children and adolescents with ADHD.

Effect of methylphenidate for inattentiveness, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity in children aged 6 to 18 years with autistic spectrum disorder

Children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) often have trouble paying attention, acting impulsively and sitting still. Methylphenidate, a stimulant drug, is often prescribed to treat children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who also have these problems, so it is important to know how well it works for children with ASD.

Drugs for cancer‐related fatigue

Fatigue associated with cancer is a significant problem. It can occur because of side effects of treatment or because of the disease itself. It can have a significant impact on a person's ability to function. The causes of fatigue are not fully understood and so it is very difficult to treat appropriately. This review has examined drug treatment for fatigue as it represents one of the ways this problem can be tackled. The review authors looked at trials in all types of cancer and at all stages of treatment. Fifty studies met the inclusion criteria but only 31 (7104 participants) were deemed suitable for detailed analysis as they explored fatigue in sufficient detail. They found mixed results with some drugs showing an effect on fatigue ‐ most notably drugs that stimulate red blood cell production and also drugs that improve levels of concentration. Methylphenidate, a stimulant drug that improves concentration, is effective for the management of cancer‐related fatigue but the small samples used in the available studies mean more research is needed to confirm its role. Erythropoietin and darbopoetin, drugs that improve anaemia, are effective in the management of cancer‐related fatigue. However safety concerns and side effects from these drugs mean that they can no longer be recommended to treat cancer fatigue.

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