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Atomoxetine for Treating Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Woman ADHD

Atomoxetine is a medication used in treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD in both children and adults. It is used as a part of a total treatment program that helps children and adult to:

  • Increase the ability to pay attention
  • Decrease hyperactivity, impulsiveness and restlessness
  • Stay focus
  • To concentrate
  • Stop fidgeting
  • To follow direction
  • Have self-control

It’s a choice medication for children and adults with ADHD who cannot take amphetamine-based medication. Compared with other medications, this medicine is not a controlled substance and does not have to tamper when discontinued. Atomoxetine comes as an oral tablet in different strengths. It’s available as generic and brand names but it’s only recommended in those who are at least six years old. It was approved by the FDA for medical use in the United State since 2002. Atomoxetine is the only medicine of its kind that is currently approved in the US for treating ADHD.

What condition does Atomoxetine treat?

Atomoxetine is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. It’s a non-stimulant medication prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD in both children and adults.

How does Atomoxetine work?

  • Atomoxetine works in the brain. It increases the attention and decreases the restlessness among ADHD patients who find it difficult to concentrate and are easily distracted. It works by increasing the level of norepinephrine, a natural substance in the brain needed to control behavior.
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common complex neurodevelopmental disorders. A person with this condition has differences in brain development and brain activity that affects the ability to concentrate, stay still, to follow direction, to pay attention, and have self-control.
  • There’s no cure to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder but it can successfully be managed and some symptoms may improve as your child grows.
  • This medicine should be used as part of a treatment program that includes educational, social, and psychological treatment.

What is the dosage of Atomoxetine?

Your dose and the duration of your treatment depend on the strength of the medicine and how well you or your child responds to the treatment.

  • The initial dose for adults and children age 6 years in treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is 40mg a day.
  • Your doctor may increase your dose after 3 days to 80mg given in the morning or two divided doses. He may also adjust your dose as needed. The maximum recommended dose should not exceed 100mg a day. Your doctor may increase your dose again after 2 to 4 weeks of treatment or as needed.
  • For children 6 years old and below or weighing less than 70 kg, their dose is based on their body weight. The initial treatment is 0.5 mg per body kilograms once a day. The dose is increased to 1.2mg/kg after three days as a single dose or divided into two doses. The dose should not exceed 1.4mg/kg in a day.

How to take Atomoxetine?

  • Take Atomoxetine exactly as directed. Take it by mouth either once a day in the morning or twice a day in the morning and late in the afternoon.
  • Take it at around the same time each day. Do not take more or less than what is recommended.
  • Swallow the pill whole with plenty of water. Do not chew, open, or crush the pill.
  • Atomoxetine may help control the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder but will not cure the condition.
  • Continue taking your medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking the pill without your doctor’s knowledge.

What are the precautions in taking Atomoxetine?

  • It should not be used by:
    • Children who are 6 years old and below
    • People with a severe disorder that affects the blood vessels in the brain or heart
    • People who are allergic to any of its ingredients
    • People with a narrow-angle glaucoma
    • People who have taken an MAOI antidepressant in the past two weeks
  • Use this with care among people with:
    • End-stage kidney disease
    • High blood pressure
    • An abnormality in the structure of the heart
    • A history of depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts
    • A history of seizure or epilepsy
    • Diseases involving the heart, blood vessels or the blood vessels in the brain
    • A fast heart rate
    • Liver problems
    • Low blood pressure
    • A history of tics or twitching
    • Abnormal heart rhythm or prolonged QT
  • Atomoxetine can affect the way the body reacts to medicines like Salbutamol. If your child takes Salbutamol by mouth or by a nebulizer, they may find their heart feels like a racing.
  • This medication has a Blackbox warning. It can cause changes in the mood and behavior that may lead to suicidal thoughts, unlike other ADHD medications. Monitor any unusual changes in your child’s behavior including suicidal thinking.
  • Atomoxetine can cause liver toxicity. Use this medicine only if other medications for ADHD do not work. Liver toxicity is likely to occur within the first 120 days of treatment.
  • This medicine can cause allergic reactions which can be life-threatening. If you or your child experiences the following symptoms seek medical attention as soon as possible:
    • Hives
    • Hoarseness
    • Itching
    • Shortness of breath
    • Trouble swallowing and breathing
    • Swelling of the face or mouth
  • Patients with a history of heart disease must take Atomoxetine with caution as this can cause serious heart and blood vessel problems.
  • Your child’s doctor may have to keep track of your child’s height and weight as this medication can slow down the growth in children.
  • Another rare side effect is a painful or prolonged penile erection. In case of a painful or prolonged erection that lasts for more than four hours, seek medical help right away.

Costs of Generic Atomoxetine vs. Strattera

Atomoxetine is an inexpensive medication used in treating the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD in adults and children. It is much cheaper compared with the brand name Strattera. Atomoxetine 10mg cost $0.99 per unit price or $89 for 90 pills. While the brand name Strattera costs $1,138.63 for 90 tabs or $12.65 per unit price.