Last updated on RxList: 7/12/2021
Focalin Side Effects Center

What Is Focalin?

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.

What Are Side Effects of Focalin?

Side effects of Focalin can include:

Dosage for Focalin

Focalin should not be used in children under 6 years, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established.

Focalin During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding

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.

Additional Information

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.


ADHD Symptoms in Children See Slideshow
Focalin Consumer Information

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

Dexmethylphenidate can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • signs of heart problems--chest pain, trouble breathing, feeling like you might pass out;
  • signs of psychosis--hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), new behavior problems, aggression, hostility, paranoia;
  • signs of circulation problems--numbness, pain, cold feeling, unexplained wounds, or skin color changes (pale, red, or blue appearance) in your fingers or toes;
  • a seizure (convulsions);
  • blurred vision or other visual changes; or
  • penis erection that is painful or lasts 4 hours or longer (rare).

Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Common side effects may include:

  • loss of appetite;
  • nausea, stomach pain; or
  • fever.

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)


The abbreviated term ADHD denotes the condition commonly known as: See Answer
Focalin Professional Information


The following are discussed in more detail in other sections of the labeling:

  • Abuse and Dependence [see BOXED WARNING, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Drug Abuse And Dependence]
  • Known hypersensitivity to methylphenidate or other ingredients of Focalin [see CONTRAINDICATIONS]
  • Hypertensive crisis with Concomitant Use of Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors [see CONTRAINDICATIONS, DRUG INTERACTIONS]
  • Serious Cardiovascular Reactions [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
  • Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Increases [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
  • Psychiatric Adverse Reactions [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
  • Peripheral Vasculopathy, Including Raynaud's phenomenon [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
  • Long-term Suppression of Growth [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]

Clinical Trials Experience

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in clinical practice.

Clinical Trials Experience With Focalin In Pediatric Patients With ADHD

The safety data in this section is based on data related to Focalin exposure during the premarketing development program 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 open-label long-term safety studies.

Most Common Adverse Reactions (incidence of greater than or equal to 5% and at least twice placebo): abdominal pain, fever, anorexia, and nausea

Adverse Reactions Leading To Discontinuation

Overall, 50 of 684 (7.3%) pediatric patients treated with Focalin experienced an adverse reaction 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).

Table 1 enumerates adverse reactions for two, placebo-controlled, parallel group studies in pediatric patients with ADHD taking Focalin doses of 5, 10, and 20 mg/day. The table includes only those reactions that occurred in patients treated with Focalin for which the incidence was at least 5% and twice the incidence among placebo-treated patients.

Table 1: Common Adverse Reactions in Pediatric Patients (6 to 17 years of age) With ADHD

System Organ Class Adverse Reactions Focalin
(N = 79)
(N = 82)
Body as a Whole Abdominal pain 15% 6%
Fever 5% 1%
Digestive System Anorexia 6% 1%
Nausea 9% 1%
Abbreviation: ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Postmarketing Experience

The following additional adverse reactions have been identified during postapproval use of dexmethylphenidate. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Musculoskeletal: rhabdomyolysis

Immune System Disorders: hypersensitivity reactions, such as angioedema, anaphylactic reactions

Adverse Reactions Reported With All Ritalin And Focalin Formulations

The following adverse reactions associated with the use of all Ritalin and Focalin formulations were identified in clinical trials, spontaneous reports, and literature. Because these reactions were reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to estimate their frequency reliably or to establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Infections and Infestations: nasopharyngitis

Blood and the Lymphatic System Disorders: leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia

Immune System Disorders: hypersensitivity reactions, including angioedema and anaphylaxis

Metabolism and Nutrition Disorders: decreased appetite, reduced weight gain, and suppression of growth during prolonged use in pediatric patients

Psychiatric Disorders: insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, psychosis (sometimes with visual and tactile hallucinations), depressed mood

Nervous System Disorders: headache, dizziness, tremor, dyskinesia, including choreoatheetoid movements, drowsiness, convulsions, cerebrovascular disorders (including vasculitis, cerebral hemorrhages, and cerebrovascular accidents), serotonin syndrome in combination with serotonergic drugs

Eye Disorders: blurred vision, difficulties in visual accommodation

Cardiac Disorders: tachycardia, palpitations, increased blood pressure, arrhythmias, angina pectoris

Respiratory, Thoracic, and Mediastinal Disorders: cough

Gastrointestinal Disorders: dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dyspepsia

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

Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue Disorders: hyperhidrosis, pruritus, urticaria, exfoliative dermatitis, scalp hair loss, erythema multiforme rash, thrombocytopenic purpura

Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders: arthralgia, muscle cramps, rhabdomyolysis

Investigations: weight loss (adult ADHD patients)

Additional Adverse Reactions Reported With Other Methylphenidate-Containing Products

The list below shows adverse reactions not listed with Ritalin and Focalin formulations that have been reported with other methylphenidate products based on clinical trials data and post-marketing spontaneous reports.

Blood and Lymphatic Disorders: pancytopenia

Immune System Disorders: hypersensitivity reactions, such as auricular swelling

Psychiatric Disorders: affect lability, mania, disorientation, libido changes

Nervous System Disorders: migraine

Eye Disorders: diplopia, mydriasis

Cardiac Disorders: sudden cardiac death, myocardial infarction, bradycardia, extrasystole, supraventricular tachycardia, ventricular extrasystole

Vascular Disorders: peripheral coldness, Raynaud's phenomenon

Respiratory, Thoracic, and Mediastinal Disorders: pharyngolaryngeal pain, dyspnea

Gastrointestinal Disorders: diarrhea, constipation

Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue Disorders: angioneurotic edema, erythema, fixed drug eruption

Musculoskeletal, Connective Tissue, and Bone Disorders: myalgia, muscle twitching

Renal and Urinary Disorders: hematuria

Reproductive System and Breast Disorders: gynecomastia

General Disorders: fatigue

Urogenital Disorders: priapism


Clinically Important Drug Interactions With Focalin

Table 2 presents clinically important drug interactions with Focalin.

Table 2: Clinically Important Drug Interactions With Focalin

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
Clinical Impact Concomitant use of MAOIs and CNS stimulants, including Focalin, can cause hypertensive crisis. Potential outcomes include death, stroke, myocardial infarction, aortic dissection, ophthalmological complications, eclampsia, pulmonary edema, and renal failure [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
Intervention Concomitant use of Focalin with MAOIs or within 14 days after discontinuing MAOI treatment is contraindicated.
Examples selegiline, tranylcypromine, isocarboxazid, phenelzine, linezolid, methylene blue
Antihypertensive Drugs
Clinical Impact Focalin may decrease the effectiveness of drugs used to treat hypertension [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Intervention Adjust the dosage of the antihypertensive drug as needed.
Examples Potassium-sparing and thiazide diuretics, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), beta blockers, centrally acting alpha-2 receptor agonists
Halogenated Anesthetics
Clinical Impact Concomitant use of halogenated anesthetics and Focalin may increase the risk of sudden blood pressure and heart rate increase during surgery.
Intervention Monitor blood pressure and avoid use of Focalin in patients being treated with anesthetics on the day of surgery.
Examples halothane, isoflurane, enflurane, desflurane, sevoflurane
Clinical Impact Combined use of methylphenidate with risperidone when there is a change, whether an increase or decrease, in dosage of either or both medications, may increase the risk of extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS)
Intervention Monitor for signs of EPS

Drug Abuse And Dependence

Controlled Substance

Focalin contains dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride, a Schedule II controlled substance.


CNS stimulants, including Focalin, other methylphenidate-containing products, and amphetamines have a high potential for abuse. Abuse is characterized by impaired control over drug use despite harm, and craving.

Signs and symptoms of CNS stimulant abuse include increased heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and/or sweating, dilated pupils, hyperactivity, restlessness, insomnia, decreased appetite, loss of coordination, tremors, flushed skin, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain. Anxiety, psychosis, hostility, aggression, and suicidal or homicidal ideation have also been observed. Abusers of CNS stimulants may chew, snort, inject, or use other unapproved routes of administration which may result in overdose and death [see OVERDOSAGE].

To reduce the abuse of CNS stimulants, including Focalin, assess the risk of abuse prior to prescribing. After prescribing, keep careful prescription records, educate patients and their families about abuse and on proper storage and disposal of CNS stimulants [see HOW SUPPLIED/Storage And Handling], monitor for signs of abuse while on therapy, and reevaluate the need for Focalin use.



Tolerance (a state of adaptation in which exposure to a drug results in a reduction of the drug's desired and/or undesired effects over time) can occur during chronic therapy with CNS stimulants, including Focalin.


Physical dependence (which is manifested by a withdrawal syndrome produced by abrupt cessation, rapid dose reduction, or administration of an antagonist) can occur in patients treated with CNS stimulants, including Focalin. Withdrawal symptoms after abrupt cessation following prolonged high-dosage administration of CNS stimulants include dysphoric mood; fatigue; vivid, unpleasant dreams; insomnia or hypersomnia; increased appetite; and psychomotor retardation or agitation.

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

© Focalin Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Focalin Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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