Generic Concerta in the US

Article updated on May 11, 2011:

A recent new report shows that Watson Pharmaceuticals is cleared to create a generic form of Concerta for the US. A recent court of appeal decision is reported to have said that the patent on Concerta is invalid and that Watson is cleared to make their own version of the drug. Johnson and Johnson, the parent company which makes Concerta, had worldwide sales of $1.33 billion of Concerta last year.


According to this report, Watson is now authorized to sell a generic version of Concerta. This report shares the fact that the sales of Concerta totaled $1.5 billion in the year ending Feb 28, 2011 (it is unclear if that is worldwide or US data).

The report says:

Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceutical unit is making and supplying the drug, and it will receive a share of the revenue from sales. Watson will market and distribute the generic.

The agreement lasts until the end of 2014. Watson can launch its own generic version when the deal ends.

What does this mean for you?

If you take Concerta (and you are in the USA), then it appears that you will be able to get a generic version of the drug which is sold by Watson, and manufactured by Ortho-McNeil. In other words – this should be the exact same medicine. This will last until 2014 – at which time this deal ends, and Watson will be creating its own version of generic Concerta.

This is quite a different circumstance than what is going on in Canada.
My experience in Canada is that the new generic Concerta which has surfaced in Canada is quite an inferior drug, and falls short of Concerta in many ways. That didn’t stop Health Canada from approving the medicine, and deeming it interchangeable – which allows pharmacists to automatically substitute the medicine to people, even if they come in with a prescription requesting Concerta. To read more about this, please refer to my article on Generic Concerta in Canada.

As always – the power of this blog comes from the discussion -and from you sharing your experiences and providing real feedback as to what is going on. As your prescription shifts from the ‘brand name’ Concerta to the Generic Concerta (from Watson), please take a moment and let us know if it is working well and if it seems the same to you.


Dr. Kenny

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  1. Dr. Kenny:

    Good Afternoon. I am a mother of two wonderful children, my son is 14 and my daughter is 9. Both are ADHD. My son has been on Concerta for seven years and my daughter has been on Concerta for 2 years. They have been doing great, making friends, making good grades in school and living a normal life. However, our pharmacist swithched my son’s medication to the generic version of Concerta without us knowing. He told us he feels different and can’t focus. This has affected his grades dramatically and he is failing. My daughter was taking the generic version of Concerta and is unable to sit still like she’s not on medication. The teacher immediately moved her away from the class. I made an appointment with the teacher and gave her tips to help her until this is resolved. All of this happened in the past month because of this GENERIC Concerta and now our children are suffering. I need to know how I can help my children now? It’s not affecting me as a parent because I will always advocate for my children until they are older, however this is affecting “their” lives with friends, teachers and their education!! My son has a heart condition since birth and is banned from ritilan and aderall. Where can I go to help make sure our children are getting the brand name Concerta needed for them to live happy normal lives. Please help and thank you for your time in explaining the changes.

      NO DIFFERENCE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I have had the same terrible experince as most of you all, was glad that there was a generic for $10. But it is not worth the last 2 week i have experenced with my 7 years old. My son have been on Concerta 54 for the last year, it was PERFECT. i regret the changes i put him through. I will now be putting him back on regular Concerta no the generic. Taking the generic is like not taking anything at all, it has no affect on my son. His teacher says, “It like it he not himself”. Doing all the things he was doing when he was first diagnosed with ADHD.

    • We had the exact same experience! I don’t know how they are able to say these meds work the same. It seems to be a common problem with ADD/ADHD medication with brand vs generic. I take adderall tablets. I have been battling this issue for a few months now trying different manufacturers, none work like the original brand by shire (who no longer make it). I am now considering changing meds all together. I think it is sad that these companies made these drugs and claim they work the same, yet actually put us who need it through hell. It is unfair, and the FDA needs to start cracking down on this issue all together!!

  3. I just found out my daughter’s insurance will not cover regular Concerta anymore and I am extremely irritated by this fact. She has had symptoms of ADHD since 3rd grade but I was reluctant to ever medicate her. Last year in 11th grade it became apparant it was affecting her grades. She had been on a little over year and the difference was noticeable and immediate. It was also noticeable last month she was on generic. Her symptoms of inattention sky-rocketed to the point I started asking her if she took her medication that morning. (Since she had picked up the prescription I did not know it was generic until last week.) Now I’m concerned about raising to the dosage to compensate but also fear messing around trying to find a medication that worked as well as the original.

    • Good luck :/ We tried upping the dose as well, it still did not work. I was forced to get the original concerta for my son because no other meds have seemed to work for him. His Dr. contacted the insurance company and now they are willing to pay for it, I just have a higher co-pay. Hopefully you find a solution. I know how difficult this issue is.

  4. @ jennifer
    Jennifer, concerta contains methylphenidate just like Ritalin. Watch out with the heart condition. It is a controlled release formulation which levels off the peaks and valleys of immediate release drugs but still would worry me if it was my child. As I have stated in posts about adderall xr generics, it is odd patients do worse on the generics as they are manufactured by the same company and identical but do what you feel best. Just keep an eye on that heart problem.

  5. @Dan
    Im curious if you have had personal experience with the different effects of the generics and brand names that are supposed to be identical? As a mother who can obviously see the difference and my child feel the difference it is apparent that they are in no way equivalent. Not to mention the color difference and the way they dissolve different when compared with one another in an at home experiment. I personally have used generic drugs before however when it comes to certain drugs like these and psych drugs generics just do not work the same!!!!

    • @jasia
      Are you speaking of adderall or concerta? Concerta in the US is still manufactured by ortho and there are no differences in any ingredient, color, shape, or release mechanism. The generic does not even have different markings. Adderall immediate release is slightly different. The brand product was sold to Teva and the shape and colors are different. Unfortunately, as I am sure you are aware, Adderall brand or generic is hard to come by. They should be equivalent to each other, but take or give what you feel works best. I am not sure any home experiment on dissolution can give you any real info on the true absorption and metabolism of ANY drug. Just monitor symptoms and take/give what you feel works best if you can get your hands on any. And no, I personally have not taken any ADHD drug. I just believe in the science while still giving my patients what they feel is best (as long as my pharmacy can get our hands on it!)

      • Dan,
        I have a 16 year old and a 7 year old both on Concerta. When they recieved their refills last fall and were filled with the generic concerta I had no idea. My 16 year old is a child with CHD and has had heart surgeries and Concerta has been fine for her and not effecting her BP at all. BUT, I must say, the generic is very different. It did not effect her BP, but both of my kiddos (one is my bio child and the other adopted) had negative effects of the generic concerta. My 16 year old who was on concerta for years noticed a difference and stopped taking the medication and my 7 year old we noticed a difference and that is when we started to question. At that time I looked at the perscription bottle itself and notice it said generic form of concerta so I asked the doctor if they were always on the generic. He told me then that it was new and that is should be exactly the same. I then asked my 16 year old to stay on it and document the difference because she is really able to explain because she knows her body so well. What she explained to me is what we were seeing in our 7 year old. In the afternoon while taking the generic form of concerta my 16 year old became really weepy and sensitive, and my 7 year old became axious, nervous, and weepy. We then went back to the “real” concerta the next month and ALL symptoms were gone. So, all of that to say, they are NOT the same no matter what science says. I don’t know what the difference is, but it seems as if it is in the time release. They were both fine for most of the day, they both just had a crash period that lasted about 2 hours on the generic. As a mom, it was night and day the difference. I will never put them on the generic again, and yes, insurance does not cover the “real” stuff like the “fake”. It is sad to me that we have to fight so hard for our kiddos when we are the ones in the battle everyday and we are told we must be mistaken. No mistake here, when the evidence is clear. I am just hopeful that they keep making the “real” concerta for my CHD child who has no issues with it. Others, she has :-(

  6. My kids have been having a lot of behaviors beside the weepy and crying eposides….I really did not realized it was medication until one of my friends pointed it and its true….it does not seem to work at all….who do we need to contact to get a warning….or more studies needed… please understand these kids are having a diffcult time as it is….making the medication less than superior it really not fair for them.

  7. My daughter is almost 9 yrs, we tried Foccalin and Medadate for the affordable pricing but she wouldn’t eat and there were too many high/lows… we tried the comp trial for 30 days of Concerta and it was a miracle drug. Even though it’s come down to $163/month now in generic form, too pricey! I finally got her on her own insurance plan that has a co-pay and guess what? They say they’ll only cover generic concerta in 10-20mgs (she takes the once a day 36 mg)! Anything higher is considered ‘brand’, although they state yes it’s generic but they bill as brand or formulary, tier 2… Does anyone have any ideas? Can we ask the Dr. for 2 pills of the 20 mg, and have her take them both in the morning? How can I get past this? I have my letter of appeal ready….

    • Hi Jean,

      I would speak to your daughter’s insurance company again, because they aren’t making sense. Concerta does not come in 10 or 20mg dosage. They come in 18, 27, 36, 54, and 72. My son is given 27 and 18 to get a dosage of 45, and I pay 2 copays each month for that, which is fine. But how can your insurance company tell you they will cover something that doesn’t exist? I would suggest calling your daughter’s pediatricians office and have them call your insurance company to see what they heck they are talking about! Good luck to you. It is so frustrating dealing with these insurance companies…

  8. Just last week, I went to fill my daughter’s new Concerta script and requested the generic to save money on the copay, since my insurance lists Concerta as a tier 3. When I returned to the pharmacy to pick up the medicine, I was going to be charged a $60 copay, which is my tier 3 pricing. I decided not to pick up the medicine at that time until I contacted my insurance company, and when I did I was told that the manufacturer of the “generic” had placed the drug on the market as a “brand” name drug and it was therefore subject to my tier 3 pricing. To say I was iritated, was an understatement. So I returned to the pharmacy, and I told them that if I was going to have to pay tier 3 copay for either the brand or the generic, then I wanted the original Concerta, and they changed it for me with no problem. After reading the other comments on this page, I do believe I’m happy this occurred, because Concerta works well for my child, and I definitely would NOT want to give her an inferior “generic”.

  9. Good Morning… Are you all from U.S. or Canada? I live in the U.S. and my 6 year old has had many episodes of impulsivity, disrupting the classroom and aggressive behavior…He was suspended twice this year for his misconduct, and he’s only in Kindergarten. I’ve tried natural homeopathic remedies, vitamin therapy, gluten-free diet, flax/fish oil, Chamomile calm, with little success. I’ve read numerous parenting books to better improve my parenting tactics as to not aid in this kind of behavior. My son has undergone an evaluation with the school psychologist for a full evaluation, but nothing came of it and was concluded that no further treatment was needed. We have opted to see an outside child psychiatrist for further evaluation to figure out whether his behavior clinical vs. psychological. Last week, I cried to his pediatrician with pure sorrow and exhaustion because I just cannnot figure out how to help my little boy. …Based on the symptoms I gave her, she did not think it was ADHD, but because this matter is severely affecting his schooling and social life, she suggested we give meds a try. She prescribed Concerta 18 mg. When I picked up his meds from the pharmacy, I noticed it was the generic form of Concerta… I have to say that I have seen a dramatic positive improvement from the 2nd day of being on the generic Concerta (mind you, he’s only been on this med for a week so far)…his behavior is so pleasant and his impulsivity has pretty much diminished. …his appetite has stayed the same so far (knock on wood)… BUT… at night, at around 6pm, I can see the medicine starting to wear off…he gets emotional and also his impulsivity starts to rise but not enough for total concern..I am staying consistent in his bedtime ritual in hopes that this is just a temporary side effect…but I have to wonder, now that I’ve read many negative comments on the “generic” formula that he may be better off with the brand name Concerta…I am afraid to change because I am so happy with the results he is having in school. …any insight on this?

    • Nancy, I’m sorry that you are having to go through this with your little boy. My son is 11 and we’ve been dealing with these behaviors since he was a toddler. I really feel for you when you talk about crying to his doctor. I’ve done that. I actually think it’s a good thing, because the doctors need to see how much these behaviors affect every piece of your life.

      As for the generic Concerta, I’m not surprised that you’ve seen an improvement, as I’m sure it does have some of the same clinical benefits. I think it’s just those of us who have had long-term experience with name-brand who are seeing the diminished effectiveness of the generic. I’ll tell my long story about our experience since switching to generic in June. (I’m cutting and pasting this from forum that is discussing this. Sorry it’s so long.) Good luck to you and your son.
      My 11 year old has been on Concerta for several years. We switched him to generic Concerta in June and I didn’t notice any change. Looking back now, I think this is because he was out of school and his days were just composed of fun activities and free time and he didn’t really have a lot of opportunities to get frustrated over work.

      When school started, we put him in a private school that specializes in kids with learning differences. At first we thought he was just taking a while to adjust to a new school, but his behaviors only increased in severity. He refused to do any work, would run out of the classroom, screaming/crying/fits, and eventually started attacking the other kids. He was asked to leave the school in November. I home schooled him for a month while I worked with our local elementary school to get his services back in place. He has been in this school since he was 3 and we’ve had a great team of aides and support people. Right before Christmas, he started going to school for just half of the day. We all agreed that since his behaviors had been so much more intense than they were in the past, that a half day was probably all he could manage.

      The team at the school has been documenting every outburst/whine/tantrum and keeping a detailed spreadsheet. We have probably 4-5 weeks worth of sheets now and every day he has an average of about 10-12 behaviors that require the team’s attention. (in four hours) He spends a lot of time by himself in the resource room, by choice.

      Last week, a friend gave me her son’s leftover name-brand Concerta that he was not going to take and it was the same dosage as normal for my son. (Yes, I know this is probably frowned upon, but we do what we can to save money.) He took the first one on Saturday. On Monday and again today (Tuesday) at school, he stayed in the regular classroom the entire time and did not have a SINGLE issue. This is a child who at times has three adults with him at school to help manage his behaviors and he made it through two days without a single whine, cry, anything. His team was amazed and asked about any changes in his routine. The ONLY thing different has been the name-brand Concerta. I realize that 2 days is not enough time to establish that this is a definite behavior change that can be attributed to switching meds, but after having every day at school be a disaster since August, getting kicked out of a school that specializes in helping kids like him, and reducing the length of his school day by 50%, this is truly miraculous for him.

      I’m sticking with name-brand and hoping that my gut instinct is correct. I had just brought up the possibility of the generic Concerta being part of the problem with his psychiatrist last week. She said that it “wouldn’t be unusual” and wrote a new script to be filled with name brand. Hoping that when our freebie pills run out, our insurance will let us get the name brand again without too much of a hassle.

  10. My son is on the 18mg extened release tablets. The pharmacy says that there is a generic available, but the insurance company doesn’t recognize it as a generic because it is considered a “brand generic.” The difference in price is $35 a month. I’m not sure what the difference between brand generic or generic is, but the insurance company said I would have to continue to pay full price even if I accepted the brand generic.
    Can anyone explain this to me. I live in the US.

    • From personal experience, get the real thing. The “brand generic” is not the same and it is worth paying the extra money for your child sake. They claim there is no difference in the two considering that they are produced by the same company, however after giving my son this “brand generic” there was an obvious difference. Good luck to you!

  11. @Dan
    I am speaking of concerta, while there doesn’t appear to have any difference pay extremely close attention and you will see they have slight color variances to them. I also am speaking from experience.

  12. Dan, how much of a color difference? I just picked up my prescription yesterday that says brand name concert a on it but when I took it yesterday and today it FEELS like I felt when I was changes
    D to the generic. Anxious, tight chest, wired. I am an ICU RN whom has taken 72 mg concert a for 10 years and the only other time I felt this way is when the generic was substituted and I didn’t know it cuz it looked the same. No placebo effect because I was unaware. I just called the pharmacy and they said they geve me the be
    Rand name but the anxious feeling makes me think otherwise. O
    I NEVER can feel my medication, I only feel it when I forget to take it. This feels like I’m n
    On speed, and I didn’t take too many

  13. Dan, how much of a color difference? I just picked up my prescription yesterday that says brand name concert a on it but when I took it yesterday and today it FEELS like I felt when I was changes
    D to the generic. Anxious, tight chest, wired. I am an ICU RN whom has taken 72 mg concert a for 10 years and the only other time I felt this way is when the generic was substituted and I didn’t know it cuz it looked the same. No placebo effect because I was unaware. I just called the pharmacy and they said they geve me the be ok
    Rand name but the anxious feeling makes me think otherwise. O
    I NEVER can feel my medication, I only feel it when I forget to take it. This feels like I’m n
    On speed, and I didn’t take too many

  14. I have a 13 year old who responded wonderfully to Concerta. 2 weeks ago when I went to pick up his monthly refill I was informed that there was a generic for Concerta. Although, I usually hesitate to use generic the pharmasist informed me that is was “exactly” the same. When I opened the new prescription the pill looked exactly the same, which struck me as odd. Isn’t there some sort of law again duplicating? We did not have a positive response with the generic. We gave it a try for 2 weeks and noticed that it was not working at all. I have since bucked up $251 for the non-generic which seems to be working very well.

  15. I, too, had a bad experience the first time I tried the identical generic. I went back on the name brand and it worked again. That was last summer. Now, due to the fact that I forgottospecify, I am taking the generic again, with no apparent difference in effect (and at a much lower copay,I mightadd).

    Could it be there is a QUALITY CONTROL problem with the Watson version? We have pretty much established they are the same drug, made on the same production line, with the same markings. So maybe the problem is with quality control during the Watson production runs, or with handling or temperature orhumidity post-production?

    This is the only theory I can come up with that would explain the apparently random and occasional differencesbetweenthetwo sources.

  16. I just wanted to chime in on this, I was web surfing about this and found you all.

    I noticed I had received the generic’s about a couple months back at Walgreen’s when my script copay dropped in price from like 30 to 5 dollars. I asked if they made a mistake, and they replied no, so I let it slide figured they made a mistake in my favor. Later I did notice on the bottle it was not Concerta anymore this concerned me, after all this stuff does who knows what exactly??… and it does it in the brain! I don’t want any mess ups in there so I had compared to some older pills I had in the cabinet, and they looked identical but, I did notice it was not working as well. So on my next refill I requested Concerta instead of the generic, and I definitely noticed a difference. It did cost more but in my opinion they are different. If you have any doubts try switching back and see if you have the same results.

    It was funny when I requested the non generic Walgreen’s took like a week to get order filled.

    I live in the US near Chicago

    I posted this in another blog but I thought I would share here as well

  17. Dr. Kenny,

    I am an adult in my early 20′s and have been on concerta for around ten years now. I’ve recently tried the generic for Methylphenidate ER OSM and it has failed greatly to uphold true concerta’s effect on me. As for all the parents on here, me being an adult allows me to recognize the difference non generic brand name only concerta has on me in comparison to the generic form. I must say that there is no comparison. The issue that I am encountering now, is that I’m wondering if my pharmacy gave me the generic with a concerta label. My concern of this is that it is VERY difficult if not impossible to recognize the difference between the two. I hope that I am wrong and that maybe after all these years I’ve built up a tolerance, I just want others to be aware.

  18. I too fell for “the generic is the same as the name brand” when I went to get my 12 yr. old sons Concerta prescription filled. I will never do that again. Within about 5 days of him taking the generic I was calling the doctors office because my son had become tremendousl anxious, nervous and could not focus or repeat back to you what task you had just directed him to do. Dont believe it, the generic is NOT the same as the name brand.

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