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Focalin

Last reviewed on RxList: 1/20/2017
Focalin Side Effects Center

Last reviewed on RxList 4/28/2015

Focalin (dexmethylphenidate) is a mild stimulant to the central nervous system used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is taken orally in tablet form. Side effects of Focalin can include restlessness, anxiousness, feeling jittery, stomach upset, loss of appetite, dry mouth, sore throat, headache, or sleep problems (insomnia).

Focalin should not be used in children under 6 years, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established. Adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women have not been conducted. Focalin should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. It is not known whether dexmethylphenidate is excreted in human milk.

Our Focalin AR Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Focalin Consumer Information

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: fever; hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using dexmethylphenidate and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, ringing in your ears, chest pain, numbness);
  • seizure (convulsions);
  • fast or uneven heart rate;
  • blurred vision or other visual changes;
  • unusual behavior, confusion; or
  • twitching or tics.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • loss of appetite;
  • upset stomach;
  • feeling restless, anxious, or jittery;
  • dry mouth, sore throat; or
  • headache.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride)

Focalin Professional Information

SIDE EFFECTS

The premarketing development program for Focalin included exposures in a total of 696 participants in clinical trials (684 patients, 12 healthy adult subjects). These participants received Focalin 5, 10, or 20 mg/day. The 684 ADHD patients (ages 6 to 17 years) were evaluated in 2 controlled clinical studies, 2 clinical pharmacology studies, and 2 uncontrolled long-term safety studies. Safety data on all patients are included in the discussion that follows. Adverse reactions were assessed by collecting adverse events, and results of physical examinations, vital sign and body weight measurements, and laboratory analyses.

Adverse events during exposure were primarily obtained by general inquiry and recorded by clinical investigators using terminology of their own choosing. Consequently, it is not possible to provide a meaningful estimate of the proportion of individuals experiencing adverse events without first grouping similar types of events into a smaller number of standardized event categories. In the tables and tabulations that follow, standard COSTART dictionary terminology has been used to classify reported adverse events.

The stated frequencies of adverse events represent the proportion of individuals who experienced, at least once, a treatment-emergent adverse event of the type listed. An event was considered treatment emergent if it occurred for the first time or worsened while receiving therapy following baseline evaluation.

Adverse Findings In Clinical Trials With Focalin

Adverse Events Associated With Discontinuation Of Treatment

No Focalin-treated patients discontinued due to adverse events in 2 placebo-controlled trials. Overall, 50 of 684 children treated with Focalin (7.3%) experienced an adverse event that resulted in discontinuation. The most common reasons for discontinuation were twitching (described as motor or vocal tics), anorexia, insomnia, and tachycardia (approximately 1% each).

Adverse Events Occurring At An Incidence Of 5% Or More Among Focalin-Treated Patients

Table 1 enumerates treatment-emergent adverse events for 2, placebo-controlled, parallel group trials in children with ADHD at Focalin doses of 5, 10, and 20 mg/day. The table includes only those events that occurred in 5% or more of patients treated with Focalin where the incidence in patients treated with Focalin was at least twice the incidence in placebo-treated patients. The prescriber should be aware that these figures cannot be used to predict the incidence of adverse events in the course of usual medical practice where patient characteristics and other factors differ from those which prevailed in the clinical trials. Similarly, the cited frequencies cannot be compared with figures obtained from other clinical investigations involving different treatments, uses, and investigators. The cited figures, however, do provide the prescribing physician with some basis for estimating the relative contribution of drug and non-drug factors to the adverse event incidence rate in the population studied.

Table 1 Treatment-Emergent Adverse Events1 Occurring During Double-Blind Treatment in Clinical Trials of Focalin

Body System Preferred Term Focalin
(n=79)
Placebo
(n=82)
Body as a Whole      
  Abdominal Pain 15% 6%
  Fever 5% 1%
Digestive System      
  Anorexia 6% 1%
  Nausea 9% 1%
1Events, regardless of causality, for which the incidence for patients treated with Focalin was at least 5% and twice the incidence among placebo-treated patients. Incidence has been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Adverse Events From Postmarketing Experience

The following additional adverse reactions have been identified during postapproval use of Focalin XR. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency:

Musculoskeletal: rhabdomyolysis

Immune System Disorders: hypersensitivity reactions, including angioedema and anaphylaxis

Adverse Events With Other Methylphenidate HCl Products

Nervousness and insomnia are the most common adverse reactions reported with other methylphenidate products. In children, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weight loss during prolonged therapy, insomnia, and tachycardia may occur more frequently; however, any of the other adverse reactions listed below may also occur.

Other Reactions Include:

Cardiac: angina, arrhythmia, palpitations, pulse increased or decreased, tachycardia

Gastrointestinal: nausea

Immune: hypersensitivity reactions including skin rash, urticaria, fever, arthralgia, exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme with histopathological findings of necrotizing vasculitis, and thrombocytopenic purpura

Nervous System: dizziness, drowsiness, dyskinesia, headache, rare reports of Tourette’s syndrome, serotonin syndrome in combination with serotonergic drugs, toxic psychosis

Vascular: blood pressure increased or decreased, cerebral arteritis and/or occlusion

Although a definite causal relationship has not been established, the following have been reported in patients taking methylphenidate:

Blood/lymphatic: leukopenia and/or anemia

Hepatobiliary: abnormal liver function, ranging from transaminase elevation to severe hepatic injury

Psychiatric: transient depressed mood, aggressive behavior, libido changes

Skin/subcutaneous: scalp hair loss

Urogenital System: priapism

Very rare reports of neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) have been received, and, in most of these, patients were concurrently receiving therapies associated with NMS. In a single report, a 10-year-old boy who had been taking methylphenidate for approximately 18 months experienced an NMS-like event within 45 minutes of ingesting his first dose of venlafaxine. It is uncertain whether this case represented a drug-drug interaction, a response to either drug alone, or some other cause.

In children, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weight loss during prolonged therapy, insomnia, and tachycardia may occur more frequently; however, any of the other adverse reactions listed above may also occur.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride)

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