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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Generic vs Brand Ritalin

06/20/1999

Question:

Have you noticed a difference in response to methylphenidate as opposed to Ritalin? I have spoken with teachers who claim the generic just does not work as well.

Answer:

I have had many patients/parents report to me that they notice a clear difference between Ritalin and a generic form of methylphenidate. Commonly, if they do notice such differences, they report that things will go along fine for a few months then suddenly they notice differences that suggest they got a "bad batch" of sorts (not as effective). This is also well described by experts from Harvard and other ADD centers across the country. I think it is likely real enough that I write for the non-generic unless, for cost reasons, my patient requests otherwise. HOWEVER, BE CAUTIOUS OF WHAT I JUST WROTE-- No good studies have looked carefully at this and, although I have enough anecdotal information to make me very cautious, it is just anecdotal. We "experts" may be on the wrong track in this. Until good studies appear, not just looking at pharmacodynamics (chemically how the drug works in someone`s body) but also "blinded" patient reports (when the person does not know if they are on the generic or the trade drug), I can not say for sure. P.S. Apologies this took so long.

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Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati