Dictionary Definition

methylphenidate n : central nervous system stimulant (trade name Ritalin) used in the treatment of narcolepsy in adults and attention deficit disorder in children [syn: Ritalin]

Extensive Definition

Methylphenidate (MPH) is a prescription stimulant commonly used to treat Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. It is also one of the primary drugs used to treat the daytime drowsiness symptoms of narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome. The drug is seeing early use to treat cancer-related fatigue. Brand names of drugs that contain methylphenidate include Ritalin (Ritalina, Rilatine, Attenta, Methylin, Penid, Rubifen); and the sustained release tablets Concerta, Metadate CD, Methylin ER, Ritalin LA, and Ritalin-SR. Focalin is a preparation containing only dextro-methylphenidate, rather than the usual racemic dextro- and levo-methylphenidate mixture of other formulations. A newer way of taking methylphenidate is by using a transdermal patch (under the brand name Daytrana), similar to those used for hormone replacement therapy, nicotine release and pain relief (fentanyl).


Methylphenidate(or ritalin) was patented in 1954 by the CIBA pharmaceutical company (now Novartis) as a potential cure for Mohr's disease. Beginning in the 1960s, it was used to treat children with ADHD, known at the time as hyperactivity or minimal brain dysfunction (MBD). Today methylphenidate is the most commonly prescribed medication to treat ADHD around the world. Production and prescription of methylphenidate rose significantly in the 1990s, especially in the United States, as the ADHD diagnosis came to be better understood and more generally accepted within the medical and mental health communities.
Most brand-name Ritalin is produced in the United States, and methylphenidate is produced in the United States, Mexico, Argentina and Pakistan. Other generic forms, such as "methylin" are produced by several U.S. pharmaceutical companies. Ritalin is also sold in the United Kingdom, Germany and other European countries (although in much lower volumes than in the United States). These generic versions of methylphenidate tend to outsell brand-name Ritalin four-to-one. In Belgium the product is sold under the name "Rilatine".
Another medicine is Concerta, a once-daily extended release form of methylphenidate, which was approved in April 2000. Studies have demonstrated that long-acting methylphenidate preparations such as Concerta are just as effective, if not more effective, than IR (instant release) formulas. Time-release medications are also harder to misuse.
In April 2006, the FDA approved a transdermal patch for the treatment of ADHD, called Daytrana.


Ritalin: 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg tablets; Ritalin SR: 20 mg tablets; Ritalin LA: 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, and 40 mg capsules; Attenta: 10mg tablets; Methylin: 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg tablets; Methylin ER: 10 mg and 20 mg tablets; Metadate ER: 10 mg and 20 mg tablets; Metadate CD: 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, and 60 mg capsules; Concerta: 18 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg and 54 mg tablets; (goes off patent in 2018) Equasym: 5 mg, 10 mg ,20 mg, and 30 mg tablets; Rubifen: 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg tablets; Daytrana: 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg patches


Methylphenidate is frequently used in the treatment for ADHD, and as such criticism of the drug is typically related to the controversy about ADHD.
Generally criticism of methylphenidate revolves around the alleged or established side effects. Concerns about illicit use of the drug and the ethics of giving psychotropic drugs to children to reduce ADHD symptoms. Others wonder if the medication is a gateway drug to substance abuse although this contention has been discredited.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, "the uproar over Ritalin was triggered almost single-handedly by the Scientology movement." The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, an antipsychiatry group associated with Scientology, conducted a major campaign against Ritalin in the 1980s and lobbied Congress for an investigation of Ritalin.


External links

methylphenidate in Czech: Ritalin
methylphenidate in German: Methylphenidat
methylphenidate in Spanish: Metilfenidato
methylphenidate in French: Méthylphénidate
methylphenidate in Italian: Metilfenidato
methylphenidate in Hebrew: מתילפנידאט
methylphenidate in Dutch: Methylfenidaat
methylphenidate in Japanese: メチルフェニデート
methylphenidate in Norwegian: Metylfenidat
methylphenidate in Polish: Metylfenidat
methylphenidate in Portuguese: Metilfenidato
methylphenidate in Russian: Метилфенидат
methylphenidate in Slovak: Metylfenidát
methylphenidate in Finnish: Metyylifenidaatti
methylphenidate in Swedish: Metylfenidat
methylphenidate in Chinese: 哌甲脂
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