The Kid’s Doctor: Generic medication may not be best for all ADHD patients

The Kid’s Doctor: Generic medication may not be best for all ADHD patients

By Sue Hubbard, M.D.,

If your child takes medications for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), you may be noticing that your insurance company is now denying coverage for these prescriptions, or is wanting to use a generic version of the medication your child is taking. It seems this is becoming more and more prevalent and I’m getting calls from patients asking what they should do.

Medications for ADHD have never been inexpensive, and for some families, especially those without insurance coverage, they’re cost prohibitive. For a child who’s been diagnosed with ADHD, it is known that a combination of medication and behavior modification provides the best outcome.

When I begin a child on medication for ADHD, I typically start with a brand-name drug rather than a generic. I explain to parents that although I’m a believer in generic drugs, and use them frequently, I want to make sure that any side effects of the drug (positive or negative) are indeed due to the medication and not influenced by a difference in a generic drug.

Once a patient has been on medication and is doing well, if there is a generic available, I will often prescribe it in order to be more cost effective.

Over the years, patients have commented to me that they don’t feel as if the generic version of their given ADHD medication is working well. While these are anecdotal reports, they have not been uncommon. In some cases, patients have opted to pay for the more expensive brand-name medication.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently released an interesting article stating just that: Studies have recently found that generic versions of the drug Concerta (by two different manufacturers) “may not provide the same therapeutic benefits for some patients” as does the branded medication.

While Concerta has a “drug releasing system” that provides 10 -12 hours of extended effectiveness, it seems that the generic drugs may release more slowly, and the diminished release rate may not provide the same effect for the patient.

So, if your child is on these medications and you’ve tried a generic version and were concerned about its effectiveness, now is the time to discuss the matter with you doctor. This may not be the case for all patients, but it’s certainly worth knowing there’s now some data on this subject.
(Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. “The Kid’s Doctor” TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at The Kid’s Doctor e-book, “Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today’s Teen,” is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.)