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A critical appraisal of atomoxetine in the management of ADHD

Authors Childress A

Received 10 August 2015

Accepted for publication 9 November 2015

Published 23 December 2015 Volume 2016:12 Pages 27—39

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S59270

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Hoa Le

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Garry Walsh


Ann C Childress

Center for Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Inc., Las Vegas, NV, USA


Abstract: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurobehavioral disorder beginning in childhood and often continuing into adulthood. A wealth of data shows that ADHD symptoms respond well to pharmacological treatment. Stimulant medications, including amphetamine and methylphenidate, are most commonly used to treat ADHD. However, with the approval of atomoxetine (Strattera®, [ATX]) by the US Food and Drug Administration in late 2002, an effective non-stimulant option became available. The US Food and Drug Administration approved ATX for the treatment of ADHD in children, adolescents, and adults. Although the effect size of ATX is generally lower than that of stimulants, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Practice Parameter for the treatment of ADHD lists ATX as a first-line treatment option. ATX is widely prescribed and accounted for 6% of the prescriptions of ADHD visits in the US in 2010. Numerous trials have found that ATX improves quality of life and emotional lability in addition to core ADHD symptoms. Although some improvement may be seen in a patient as early as one week after the initiation of treatment, ATX generally takes longer to have a full effect. The median time to response using 25% improvement in ADHD symptoms in pooled trials was 3.7 weeks. Data from these trials indicate that the probability of symptom improvement may continue to increase up to 52 weeks after treatment is initiated. ATX has been shown to be safe and effective in combination with stimulants. It has also been studied systematically in subjects with ADHD and comorbid oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. The mechanism of action of ATX, its efficacy, and adverse events reported in trials is reviewed.

Keywords: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Strattera, non-stimulants, pharmacotherapy

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