"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today allowed marketing of the first medical device based on brain function to help assess attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents 6 to 17 years old. When used as part of "...
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Focalin XR was administered to 46 children and 7 adolescents with ADHD for up to 7 weeks and 206 adults with ADHD in clinical studies. During the clinical studies, 101 adult patients were treated for at least 6 months.
Adverse events during exposure were obtained primarily 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 listings that follow, MedDRA 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 Events Associated with Discontinuation of Treatment in Acute Clinical Studies with Focalin XR Children
Overall, 50 of 684 children treated with Focalin immediate-release formulation (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). None of the 53 Focalin XR-treated pediatric patients discontinued treatment due to adverse events in the 7-week placebo-controlled study.
Adverse Events Occurring at an Incidence of 5% or More Among Focalin XR-Treated Patients-Children
Table 1 enumerates treatment-emergent adverse events for the placebo-controlled, parallel-group study in children and adolescents with ADHD at flexible Focalin XR doses of 5-30 mg/day. The table includes only those events that occurred in 5% or more of patients treated with Focalin XR and for which the incidence in patients treated with Focalin XR 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–Pediatric Patients
|No. of Patients with AEs|
|Primary System Organ Class/Adverse Event Preferred Term|
|Metabolism and Nutrition Disorders||34%||11%|
|Nervous System Disorders||30%||13%|
|1Events, regardless of causality, for which the incidence for patients treated with Focalin XR was at least 5% and twice the incidence among placebo-treated patients. Incidence has been rounded to the nearest whole number.|
Table 2 below enumerates the incidence of dose-related adverse events that occurred during a fixed-dose, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Focalin XR up to 30mg/day versus placebo in children and adolescents with ADHD.
Table 2: Dose-related
Adverse Events from a Fixed-dose Study of Double-Blind Treatment in Pediatric
Patients By Organ-System and Preferred Term
|ADVERSE EVENT||Focalin XR 10 mg/d
|Focalin XR 20 mg/d
|Focalin XR 30 mg/d
|Metabolism and nutritional disorders||16%||17%||22%||5%|
|Other Adverse events|
Adverse Events Associated with Discontinuation of Treatment in Clinical Studies with Focalin XR -Adults
In the adult placebo-controlled study, 10.7% of the Focalin XR-treated patients and 7.5% of the placebo-treated patients discontinued for adverse events. Among Focalin XR-treated patients, insomnia (1.8%, n=3), feeling jittery (1.8%, n=3), anorexia (1.2%, n=2), and anxiety (1.2%, n=2) were the reasons for discontinuation reported by more than 1 patient.
Adverse Events Occurring at an Incidence of 5% or More Among Focalin XR-Treated Patients-Adults
Table 3 enumerates treatment-emergent adverse events for the placebo-controlled, parallel-group study in adults with ADHD at fixed Focalin XR doses of 20, 30, and 40 mg/day. The table includes only those events that occurred in 5% or more of patients in a Focalin XR dose group and for which the incidences in patients treated with Focalin XR appeared to increase with dose. 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 3: Treatment-Emergent
Adverse Events1 Occurring During Double-Blind Treatment–Adults
|F ocalin XR 20 mg N=57||Focalin XR 30 mg N=54||Focalin XR 40 mg N=54||Placebo N=53|
|No. of Patients with AEs|
|Primary System Organ Class/ Adverse Event Preferred Term|
|Nervous System Disorders||37%||39%||50%||28%|
|Respiratory, Thoracic and Mediastinal Disorders||16%||9%||15%||8%|
|1Events, regardless of causality, for which the incidence was at least 5% in a Focalin XR group and which appeared to increase with randomized dose. Incidence has been rounded to the nearest whole number.|
Two other adverse reactions occurring in clinical trials with Focalin XR at a frequency greater than placebo, but which were not dose related were: Feeling jittery (12% and 2%, respectively) and Dizziness (6% and 2%, respectively).
Table 4 summarizes changes in vital signs and weight that were recorded in the adult study (N=218) of Focalin XR in the treatment of ADHD.
Table 4: Changes (Mean ± SD)
in Vital Signs and Weight by Randomized Dose during Double-Blind Treatment –
|F ocalin XR 20 mg
|Focalin XR 30 mg
|Focalin XR 40 mg
|Pulse (bpm)||3.1 ± 11.1||4.3 ± 11.7||6.0 ± 10.1||-1.4 ± 9.3|
|Diastolic BP (mmHg)||-0.2 ± 8.2||1.2 ± 8.9||2.1 ± 8.0||0.3 ± 7.8|
|Weight (kg)||-1.4 ± 2.0||-1.2 ± 1.9||-1.7 ± 2.3||-0.1 ± 3.9|
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:
Adverse Events with Other Methylphenidate HCl Dosage Forms
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:
Gastrointestinal: abdominal pain, nausea
Immune: hypersensitivity reactions including skin rash, urticaria, fever, arthralgia, exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme with histopathological findings of necrotizing vasculitis, and thrombocytopenic purpura
Metabolism/Nutrition: anorexia, weight loss during prolonged therapy
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:
Hepatobiliary: abnormal liver function, ranging from transaminase elevation to hepatic coma
Psychiatric: transient depressed mood, aggressive behavior
Skin/Subcutaneous: scalp hair loss
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 ten-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.
Read the Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects
Focalin XR should not be used in patients being treated (currently or within the preceding two weeks) with MAO Inhibitors [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
Because of possible effects on blood pressure, Focalin XR should be used cautiously with pressor agents.
Methylphenidate may decrease the effectiveness of drugs used to treat hypertension.
Dexmethylphenidate is metabolized primarily to d-ritalinic acid by de-esterification and not through oxidative pathways.
The effects of gastrointestinal pH alterations on the absorption of dexmethylphenidate from Focalin XR have not been studied. Since the modified release characteristics of Focalin XR are pH dependent, the coadministration of antacids or acid suppressants could alter the release of dexmethylphenidate.
Human pharmacologic studies have shown that racemic methylphenidate may inhibit the metabolism of coumarin anticoagulants, anticonvulsants (e.g., phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone), and tricyclic drugs (e.g., imipramine, clomipramine, desipramine). Downward dose adjustments of these drugs may be required when given concomitantly with methylphenidate. It may be necessary to adjust the dosage and monitor plasma drug concentration (or, in the case of coumarin, coagulation times), when initiating or discontinuing methylphenidate.
Drug Abuse And Dependence
Controlled Substance Class
Focalin XR, like other methylphenidate products, is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by Federal regulation.
Abuse, Dependence, Tolerance
See complete boxed warning for drug abuse and dependence information at the beginning of Full Prescribing Information.
Read the Focalin XR Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions
Last reviewed on RxList: 7/11/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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