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Focalin XR (Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride) - Summary



Focalin XR should be given cautiously to patients with a history of drug dependence or alcoholism. Chronic abusive use can lead to marked tolerance and psychological dependence with varying degrees of abnormal behavior. Frank psychotic episodes can occur, especially with parenteral abuse. Careful supervision is required during withdrawal from abusive use, since severe depression may occur. Withdrawal following chronic therapeutic use may unmask symptoms of the underlying disorder that may require follow-up.



Focalin XR is an extended-release formulation of dexmethylphenidate with a bi-modal release profile. Focalin XR uses the proprietary SODAS (Spheroidal Oral Drug Absorption System) technology. Each bead-filled Focalin XR capsule contains half the dose as immediate-release beads and half as enteric-coated, delayed-release beads, thus providing an immediate release of dexmethylphenidate and a second delayed release of dexmethylphenidate. Dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride, the d-threo enantiomer of racemic methylphenidate hydrochloride, is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant.

Focalin XR is indicated for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in patients aged 6 years and older.

The effectiveness of Focalin XR in the treatment of ADHD in patients aged 6 years and older was established in two placebo-controlled studies in patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for ADHD [ see Clinical Studies   (14) ].

A diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; DSM-IV) implies the presence of hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment and were present before age 7 years. The symptoms must cause clinically significant impairment, e.g., in social, academic, or occupational functioning, and be present in two or more settings, e.g., school (or work) and at home. The symptoms must not be better accounted for by another mental disorder. For the Inattentive Type, at least six of the following symptoms must have persisted for at least 6 months: lack of attention to details/careless mistakes; lack of sustained attention; poor listener; failure to follow through on tasks; poor organization; avoids tasks requiring sustained mental effort; loses things; easily distracted; forgetful. For the Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, at least six of the following symptoms must have persisted for at least 6 months: fidgeting/squirming; leaving seat; inappropriate running/climbing; difficulty with quiet activities; “on the go”; excessive talking; blurting answers; can’t wait turn; intrusive. The Combined Types requires both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive criteria to be met.

Special Diagnostic Considerations

Specific etiology of this syndrome is unknown, and there is no single diagnostic test. Adequate diagnosis requires the use not only of medical but of special psychological, educational, and social resources. Learning may or may not be impaired. The diagnosis must be based upon a complete history and evaluation of the child and not solely on the presence of the required number of DSM-IV characteristics.

Need for Comprehensive Treatment Program

Focalin XR is indicated as an integral part of a total treatment program for ADHD that may include other measures (psychological, educational, social) for patients with this syndrome. Drug treatment may not be indicated for all children with this syndrome. Stimulants are not intended for use in the child who exhibits symptoms secondary to environmental factors and/or other primary psychiatric disorders, including psychosis. Appropriate educational placement is essential and psychosocial intervention is often helpful. When remedial measures alone are insufficient, the decision to prescribe stimulant medication will depend upon the physician’s assessment of the chronicity and severity of the child’s symptoms.

Long-Term Use

The effectiveness of Focalin XR for long-term use, i.e., for more than 7 weeks, has not been systematically evaluated in controlled trials. Therefore, the physician who elects to use Focalin XR for extended periods should periodically reevaluate the long-term usefulness of the drug for the individual patient [ see Dosage a nd Administration   (2.3) ].

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Published Studies Related to Focalin XR (Dexmethylphenidate)

Effect of extended-release dexmethylphenidate and mixed amphetamine salts on sleep: a double-blind, randomized, crossover study in youth with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. [2014]
measures of sleep... CONCLUSIONS: Higher stimulant doses were associated with reduced sleep duration

Extended-release dexmethylphenidate 30 mg/d versus 20 mg/d: duration of attention, behavior, and performance benefits in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. [2013]
performance in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder... CONCLUSIONS: D-MPH-ER 30 mg was superior to D-MPH-ER 20 mg at later time points

Dose effects and comparative effectiveness of extended release dexmethylphenidate and mixed amphetamine salts. [2011]
specific impairments, and common adverse events associated with stimulants... CONCLUSIONS: Dose level, rather than stimulant class, was strongly related to

Efficacy of dexmethylphenidate for the treatment of fatigue after cancer chemotherapy: a randomized clinical trial. [2009.11]
Cancer and its treatment can induce subjective and objective evidence of diminished functional capacity encompassing physical fatigue and cognitive impairment. Dexmethylphenidate (D-MPH; the D-isomer of methylphenidate) was evaluated for treatment of chemotherapy-related fatigue and cognitive impairment...

Long-term effectiveness and safety of dexmethylphenidate extended-release capsules in adult ADHD. [2009.03]
CONCLUSION: Once-daily d-MPH-ER 20 to 40 mg is safe and effective for long-term treatment of adult ADHD.

more studies >>

Clinical Trials Related to Focalin XR (Dexmethylphenidate)

Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride Tablets Under Non-Fasting Conditions [Completed]
The objective of this randomized, single-dose, two-way evaluation is to compare the bioequivalence of a test dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride formulation to an equivalent oral dose of the commercially available dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride (Focalin, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation) in a test population of 24 adult subjects under fed conditions.

Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride Tablets Under Fasting Conditions [Completed]
The objective of this randomized, single-dose, two-way evaluation is to compare the bioequivalence of a test dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride formulation to an equivalent oral dose of the commercially available dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride in a test population of 24 adult subjects under fasted conditions.

A Study of Dex-methylphenidate Extended Release in Children (6-12 Years) With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) [Completed]

Study of Dopamine Transporter Receptor Occupancy With Long-acting Dex-methylphenidate [Completed]
The objectives of this study are to document the pharmacokinetics of the adequacy of DAT receptor occupancy d-MPH formulation in three doses (20 mg, 30 mg, and 40 mg) using PET scanning with C-11 Altropane as the ligand across a range of times. It has been estimated that MPH is effective when the average CNS DAT occupancy is 50% or greater. Focalin XR has been shown to be clinically effective in an analog classroom as early as 1 hour and as late as 12 hours. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the average DAT occupancy will be adequate (50% or greater) at time periods corresponding to the times of clinical efficacy. The first objective is to examine the onset of action by testing whether average DAT occupancy will be adequate (50% or greater) at 1 hour after dosing for each dose tested (20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg). The second objective is to test the adequacy of average DAT occupancy in a range of later times for each dose. The times chosen (8, 10 and 12 hours) correspond to times Focalin XR has been shown to be clinically effective in an analogue classroom study. A range of times have been chosen since, while effective at 12 hours, the degree of clinical effectiveness decreased with later time periods. The adequacy of DAT occupancy across this range of time periods will provide important details on the in vivo molecular action of the medicine at periods of critical clinical activity. The third exploratory objective is to examine a time period later then those previously tested with the highest dose. Since the clinical effectiveness of Focalin XR has not been tested out to 14 hours, it is unknown whether it is effective at 14 hours. If Focalin XR were to be effective at 14 hours it would be more likely at the highest dose.

Efficacy and Safety of Dex-Methylphenidate Extended Release 30 mg Versus 20 mg in Children (6-12 Years) With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in a Laboratory Classroom Setting. [Completed]
This study will evaluate the efficacy and safety of Dex-Methylphenidate Extended Release 30 mg compared to 20 mg in pediatric patients ages 6-12 with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in a 12-hour laboratory classroom setting.

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Reports of Suspected Focalin XR (Dexmethylphenidate) Side Effects

Headache (7)Drug Ineffective (6)Dizziness (4)Tremor (4)Pruritus (3)TIC (3)Raynaud's Phenomenon (3)Dyspnoea (3)Suicide Attempt (3)Intentional Overdose (2)more >>


Based on a total of 1 ratings/reviews, Focalin XR has an overall score of 7. The effectiveness score is 8 and the side effect score is 6. The scores are on ten point scale: 10 - best, 1 - worst.

Focalin XR review by 25 year old female patient

Overall rating:  
Effectiveness:   Considerably Effective
Side effects:   Moderate Side Effects
Treatment Info
Condition / reason:   ADHD
Dosage & duration:   5mg taken 1/day for the period of 2 yrs
Other conditions:   OCD
Other drugs taken:   Allegra
Reported Results
Benefits:   Focalin XR reduced the severity of ADHD symptoms. It increased attention and reduced fidgeting. Also noticed an increased productivity at work and better interpersonal interactions. Additionally, the XR formulation is easier to take properly because it only has to be taken once a day, versus 3 - 4 times a day for the non extended release formula.
Side effects:   The main side effects experienced included loss of appetite and increased anxiety, especially towards the end of the drug's effectiveness period (about 8 hours). This is an improvement over short-acting Focalin where these side effect was experienced up to 3xs a day. I did not experience any other side effects.
Comments:   Diagnosed with ADHD at 17. On some form of Ritalin since 17. Ritalin had too many side effects so used Focalin. Unfortunately Focalin short-acting required me to remember to take it 3xs a day, and I have ADHD, so the extended release was a much better fit.

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Page last updated: 2015-08-10

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