Posted: 03/03/2016

How Do Focalin and Adderall Differ?

Adhd_medications_concept

At first glance, Focalin and Adderall are very similar medications. They’re both stimulants that are commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. They are typically administered at similar dosage strengths, and they are both available in immediate-release and extended-release formulations.

However, there are subtle differences, and one medication may be better than the other for certain individuals depending on their condition and response to treatment. Below are some of the factors you may want to consider when talking to your doctor about Focalin vs Adderall.

Mechanisms of Action
It is not fully understood how either Focalin or Adderall work to treat ADHD. However, both act on two neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine. Focalin inhibits norepinephrine and dopamine transporters, which increases the levels of these chemicals in the brain. Adderall inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine while also triggering the release of more of these chemicals, which increases the overall levels of these chemicals in the brain, much like Focalin.

It’s believed that by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, both Focalin and Adderall help improve attention, focus, and impulse control in individuals with ADHD.

Approved Treatment
Focalin has been approved by the FDA to treat ADHD only, while Adderall has been approved to treat both ADHD and narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder that causes severe daytime drowsiness and sudden bouts of sleep. As a stimulant, Adderall can help people with narcolepsy stay awake during the day. However, it’s important to note that Adderall should not be used to promote wakefulness or hold off sleep in people who don’t have a sleeping disorder.

Side Effects
In clinical studies, common side effects for Adderall and Focalin have been relatively similar. Some of the most frequently reported side effects of both include headache, loss of appetite, dizziness, nervousness, and difficulty sleeping. Some people who use Adderall have also reported abdominal pain, dry mouth, diarrhea, and irritability.

Keep in mind that side effects vary from individual to individual, so someone who experiences no noticeable side effects when taking Adderall might start having side effects after switching to Focalin, and vice versa.

Costs
When comparing Adderall and Focalin, one of the main things many people want to know about is the cost, especially if their insurance provider doesn’t cover either of these ADHD medications. Unfortunately, as brand name drugs, both Focalin and Adderall can be expensive. Focalin tends to be the less expensive of the two: sixty immediate-release tablets usually cost around $90-$100, while the same number of immediate-release Adderall tablets typically cost around $310-$360. Exact prices will vary by pharmacy and dosage strength.

There are generics available for both Focalin and Adderall: they are dexmethylphenidate and amphetamine salt combo, respectively. These forms are typically less expensive, so you may want to ask your doctor if it’s possible to switch to a generic in order to save money. You may also be able to save on brand name ADHD medications by using a pharmaceutical coupon or discount card. To save on Focalin, Adderall and their respective generics search our site. 

By HelpRx Staff Writer

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About the HelpRx.info Blog

HelpRx.info is staffed by experts in the prescription medication industry. Get the latest health, medical news and pharmaceutical news that can save you money and allow you to take charge of your healthcare. With frequent updates about the prescription drug industry as well as medicine news, you'll gain an insider look into the industry and learn more about how to get the best price on your prescriptions while not sacrificing quality. Subscribe to the HelpRx.info pharmacy blog through our RSS feed or get updates by liking HelpRx.info on Facebook and following HelpRx.info on Twitter.

About HelpRx

Our discounts provide you access to negotiated prices on your prescription drugs at your local pharmacy. We can provide these because we're partnered with OptumRx, a BIG pharmacy benefit provider that provides prescription coverage for MILLIONS of people like you.

About ScriptRelief

Script Relief, the creator of the NPSN card and HelpRx discounts, helps consumers save an average of 50%, and up to 75%, off their prescriptions.

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