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by    Anthony Kane, MD
 
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A New ADHD Drug On The Horizon


by Jeannine Virtue

A new ADHD drug, Attenace, will likely hit pharmacy shelves in early 2006. This "new" ADHD drug isn't actually so new to the about 20,000 people currently taking Provigil "off-label" for ADHD. Attenace contains modafinil, the same active ingredient in the narcolepsy drug Provigil.

Modafinil is a stimulant drug that is chemically unrelated to the other stimulant ADHD medications. Although Attenace is a stimulant medication, it is not classified as a controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act. This translates to the convenience of phone-in refills and less prescription hassles at the pharmacy.

Attenace has a different chemical structure but it still poses many side effects consistent with the side effects of the other stimulant ADHD medications. There are also a few new side effects, like sexual dysfunction, that adults might find less than pleasant.

Before you knock on your doctor's door asking for a prescription, there are a few things you should know about this new ADHD medication.

First, it is not known how well Attenance will work or how it compares in effectiveness to the current ADHD drugs since the three trials conducted on Attenace only compared Attenace to a placebo instead of to its potential competitors. Cephalon conducted three 9-week double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of more than 600 children and adolescents between the ages of six and 17 with ADHD. Cephalon reports that Attenace "significantly improved" the symptoms of ADHD in children and adolescents, when compared to placebo, in three studies of the drug.

Secondly, Attenace (modafinil) has side effects ranging from mildly disturbing to potentially life-threatening. Given the relatively small test sampling to date, Attenace side effects are not fully known at this point. It can be assumed that Attenace will have similar side effects to Provigil since they are made from the same drug.

Below are a listing of common Provigil (modafinil) side effects.
  • Headache.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain.
  • Constipation or diarrhea.
  • Sleep disturbances/insomnia.
  • Loss of appetite/weight loss.
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Back pain.
  • Confusion.
  • Anxiety and agitation.
  • Nervousness, aggression, hostility.
  • Unstable moods.
  • Depression.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • "Pins and Needles" feeling.
  • Rash or itching.
  • Dizziness.
  • Widening of blood vessels.
  • Weakness or loss of strength.
  • High/increased blood pressure.
  • Alteration in results of liver function tests.
  • Chest pain.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Drug dependence.
  • Allergic reaction.

Attenace may be habit forming and has the potential for abuse and dependence. You should discuss the abuse and dependence potential of Attenace with your doctor. This drug should not be taken by anyone who has been or currently is dependent on alcohol or drugs.

Symptoms of an Attenace overdose might include excitation, agitation, insomnia, sleep disturbances, anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness, confusion, nervousness, tremor, palpitations, nausea, and diarrhea.

Contact your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following uncommon but serious side effects:

  • An allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives).
  • Irregular heartbeats.
  • Low or high blood pressure.
  • Shortness of breath.

Before taking Attenace, tell your doctor if you have;

  • Left ventricular hypertrophy.
  • Chest pain.
  • Irregular heartbeats.
  • History of heart attack.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Unstable angina.
  • History of mental illness.
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease.

Attenace, along with all other ADHD medications currently on the market, is not recommended for children under the age of six since its safety and effectiveness has not been determined. Despite ADHD drug manufacturer's own labels warning against prescribing these powerful drugs to young children, doctors increasingly prescribe ADD medications to children under the manufacturer recommended age.

A Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article in 2000 noted a "disturbing" increase in the amount of stimulants and anti-depressants prescribed for children under the age of five. Parents should carefully consider the health effects of placing small children on powerful ADHD medications, even if the child's health care provider prescribes a medication for ADHD or ADD.

People using ADHD medications know that these little pills are never the "cure-all" answer. Attention Deficit requires a multifaceted approach which requires many different tactics and combination of tactics. What works is highly individual, depending on individual needs.

Many people with Attention Deficit Disorder and parents of children with Attention Deficit Disorder find great Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD success from diet supplementation - especially with amino acids and essential fatty acids - a shift in parenting tactics, modifying the home and school environment, biofeedback, neuro-linguistic programming, stress relief measures and exercise. The greatest successes are found by being bold and trying a combination of many measures.

About The Author

Jeannine Virtue is a freelance journalist who specializes in health topics. Visit the Attention Deficit Disorder Help Center at http://www.add-adhd-help-center.com for information about treating Attention Deficit Disorder without the use of Ritalin or other ADHD medications.



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Editor's note: It is unfortunate for parents that the use of drugs like Ritalin is becoming a political issue. It has become very popular in certain circles to uniformly condemn the use of medicine to treat ADHD. Certain web sites play to the fears of parents and stress the extremely rare dangerous side effects of these medications. Rarely, do any of these opinions address the terrible consequences of not treating ADHD. Any parent who has watched his or her child struggle and fail in school year after year can tell you that ADHD is not a harmless condition.

One has to remember that stimulants are medications and as such have an element of risk with their use. They are not to be used casually. There must be a medical indication that outweighs the risk. However, when there is a real indication, parents should not hesitate to use stimulants.

This is not to say that medication is the only or even best approach for any particular child. As I have outligned in How to Help the Child You Love, there are over thirty-five different effective treatments for ADHD. Often a non-medical treatment is better for certain children.

Another important thing to remember is that using stimulant medication is not a life long sentence. These medications can be used on a short term basis while you are trying to design a more effective treatment program. I also describe this in How to Help the Child You Love.

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Anthony Kane, MD

ADD ADHD Advances



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