Focalin XR: Medicine for ADHD

Focalin xr

Focalin XR is a relatively new ADD/ADHD medication. Its chemical name is dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride. This long-acting version of Focalin can be used to treat not only children, but teens and adults as well.

Each capsule of this medication, like so several other attention deficit drugs, is filled with beads in a precise ratio set to release the drug at specific intervals. In the case of Focalin XR, half of one capsule (regardless of the dosage) is filled with beads designed to release immediately. The other half of the beads is enteric-coated, delayed-release set to provide another dose of the medication at a later time.

Your physician can prescribe this version of the drug in different strengths: 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 mg capsules. One of the assets to these increments of 5 mg is that adjustments in medications can be more finely tuned.

Some doctors have prescribed daily doses as high as 30 to 40 mg. To give you an idea of the strength of the dosage, compare it to that of Concerta. If these were “translated” into an equivalent dosage of Concerta, for example, it would be somewhere between 54 and 72 mg.

This longer-acting version of Focalin lasts about 8 hours in the body compared to the 5 hours of regular Focalin. The latest studies reveal that it’s approximately 70 percent effective in alleviating ADD/ADHD symptoms.

Perhaps the most welcome aspect of this drug, though, especially for younger children is that it requires only 30 minutes before it starts working on a system. This provides children with some relieve and help in the early hours of the morning, when they first start waking up and preparing for the school day itself…

Many parents say that the mornings are the most difficult for children with ADD/ADHD. Results of a survey conducted several years ago seem to bear these observations out with some statistics. This survey revealed that out of a total of 16 specific behaviors investigated parents or caregivers reported 12 of them were worse before the start of school.

These behaviors included speaking out of turn, failure to complete tasks, poor concentration, messiness, and interrupting others, to name just a few.

According to some specialists, this quick acting onset also helps children academically at the start of the school day as well.

If you experience any of the following side effects of Focalin XR, consult your physician. The symptoms include: dry mouth, heartburn, stomach pain, headache, difficulty or change in sleeping pattern, loss of appetite, weight loss or nervousness.

Is Focalin xr a good choice for your specific situation and symptoms? Only you and your physician can decide that.

Do you have personal experience with Focalin XR? Please share it below to help other people learn more.

Dr. Kenny

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  1. Hi Dr Kenny
    Why aren’t we using more D-methylphenidate products like Focalin? i thought that the D enantiomer would decrease the unwanted cardiovascular effects and still have the good effects on the symptoms just like D-amphetamine. How would you rate the difference between L and D Methylphenidate compared to L and D amphetamine?

    Since Concerta have the both enantiomers L and D it will have higher rate of unwanted side effects, right, can you estimate how much higher the unwanted side effect are on Concerta compared to Focalin?

    • Great questions. I’m sorry to say that I don’t have any direct experience to share with you – as Focalin is not available in Canada so I don’t have any experience with it.
      While companies which make enantiomers (isomers) often discuss the increased benefits and decreased side effects, often they are quite similar for most people.
      Dr. Kenny

  2. My six year old son was just found to be ADHD. He started on 5mg of Focalin xr this past Saturday. Although we are excited that his school day will be more productive, the effect on our family life after the drug wears off is still suffering. By the time he gets home we still is over-active and gets himself all stressed out about the smallest things. I will except a good school day…but is there an option for a short term release for night time. His happiness is all we care about, but family harmony effects what the next day brings. I would like to see his immediate family see results as well as his school.

    I am new to this and dont want to “drug” him non-stop, but he seems to be suffering once the meds wear off.

  3. I have a question , when my son was in school he took his med at 6 in the morning, and then again in the afternoon. He was doing good, but now its summer and he doesnt get up real early , so he takes it at a later time. Does he have to take it everyday at the same time for it to work? Please does anybody have an answer for me ?

  4. I am confused on what to do. My son started takin Focalin xr 5mg a day at the age of 3 but he was going to be four in 3 months. The reason was because in daycare he was running down the hallways and outside and they could not catch him and was doing it all the time. He would not sit in his seat as well. His behaviors were trying at times but mostly the running was an issue. He has been doing that since he was two. We had him tested to see if he was up to par for pre-school and they stated there was no problem with his knowlege base of what he was suppose to know. That was before meds. After meds he didnt run anymore and listened in class. New child over night at school. So he has been on it for almost 10 months. My question is could some of that not be related to a typical three year old and could he have out grown some of it? I just want to know if keeping him on the meds is right? Or seeing if since he is almost 5 that he has improved. This med also makes him very grouchy as well. He was never grouchy before this med. He was always happy but full of energy. I just want to give him a chance to see what he is like off meds now that he is older. Is that crazy?

  5. My daughter (8) has ADHD and is on Focalin XR 10mg. She takes her pill in the morning around 7 a.m. and it seems to have worn off by about 1 p.m. This is only 6 hours, not 8! She is also very thin naturally so the doctor was concerned about appetite/weight loss issues with her. We decided to try a non-stimulant for the afternoon, Intuniv. She is currently on 2 mg. but I would like to up it to 3 mg. as I am still seeing some ADHD behaviors, although better than when she had no afternoon meds. However the price of these two medications together is wiping me out financially! So I am going to ask her doctor if we can switch to a different medication that works for 16 hours, so we don’t have to buy two separate pills each day. My only concern in switching is that the afternoon pill (Intuniv) was a non-stimulant and helped her sleep at night. I am a little worried about a long-term stimulant affecting her sleep.

  6. Our daughter now 18 has been taking focalin for 3 years with no problems.. Now she has moved to AZ for college and the Dr. there dosnt want to refill it.. She takes Focalin xr 20 .. She has MDD reacurrent severe. She also takes Lamictal 50 and paxil cr 38.5..

  7. My 5 just started 5mg of focalin a week ago. He is 2 different pre k classes and both say they have seen a difference. But having him home this weekend and getting to see it for myself was amazing. Unfortunatly it only only seemed to last for 5 hours and much like a previouse reply, our home life suffers. We have 2 more more younger sons and I fear for all 3 that all they hear is us yelling at our 5 yr old. We try so hard to be patient with him but it is incredibly difficult. I was wondering if it would be ok to ask our dr. about giving him this pill twice a day so that we might all be able to enjoy each other at home too.

    • You can give it to him twice a day but the second does is going to keep him from not sleeping at night I only give it to my daughter if I know we have a event to go to in the afternoon and I want her to come then I’ll give it to her but if I’m not doing nothing I don’t even bother I just deal with it and play game with her or do something to keep her busy I may even take her to the park so she can wear her self out

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