Patch new option for treating ADHD

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skin patchWASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Medication for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, can now be delivered through a patch, researchers reported Friday.

The patch, called DAYTRANA, is meant for children 6 to 12. It gives physicians greater control over the amount of time a child is on medication, as it is easily administered and removed, said Dr. Timothy E. Wilens, a consultant to Shire, the company that produced the patch and funded the research.

The findings were presented recently at a child and adolescent psychiatrists' convention in San Diego.

"I like this because it gives you an off-switch," said Wilens, who is also in the clinical and research program in pediatric psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Three hours after the patch is removed, all of the negative side effects of methylphenidate, the chemical component in the patch, leave the child's blood stream.

Although the clinical trial data about DAYTRANA is just being released, the drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and put on the market at the beginning of this summer, Wilens said.

However, the research is still preliminary, and has yet to be peer reviewed or published in a medical journal.

Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Schneider Children's Hospital in New York, told United Press International that the patch adds little benefit to the wide variety of ADHD medication already available. That's because methylphenidate is the main component in other oral drugs.

"The medication has been launched with a lot of fanfare," Adesman said.

The only difference between this medication and the other available ADHD drugs is the fact that it can be delivered through a patch, Adesman said.

The study looked at 117 children ages 6 to 12 with ADHD. Participants began with a 10 mg patch; dosage was increased over five weeks until the children received an appropriate level of medication. The study was also partially randomized, as researchers randomly selected children to either a control group, with a placebo patch, or an intervention group, with a DAYTRANA patch.

There were side effects, such as decreased appetite, headache, insomnia and upper abdominal pain. However, the drug was considered to be "well-tolerated."

"The side effects between the patch and the oral form of the medicine ... are basically identical," Wilens said.

An additional side effect caused by the patch is a possible skin irritation, "kind of like a Band-Aid reaction," Wilens said.

Adesman has not prescribed DAYTRANA to any of his patients, largely because parents have expressed concerns that their child will not tolerate it and rip it off.

Wilens acknowledged this as a concern, but he said the product is manufactured to prevent kids from removing the patch.

"Once you put it on and pull it off, it's really hard to (re)apply," he said.

The patch, worn on the hip underneath clothing, did not appear to make children feel as though they were being stigmatized, said Wilens, although he said that the results could be different amongst adolescents.

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