Minds On Meds

Mental Health Medications

ADHD Medications

Concerta, Page 3

Concerta® is indicated for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children 6 years of age and older, adolescents, and adults up to the age of 65.

8.4 Pediatric Use

CONCERTA® should not be used in children under six years, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established. Long-term effects of methylphenidate in children have not been well established.

8.5 Geriatric Use

CONCERTA® has not been studied in patients greater than 65 years of age.


9.1 Controlled Substance

Methylphenidate is a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

9.2 Abuse

As noted in the Box Warning, CONCERTA® should be given cautiously to patients with a history of drug dependence or alcoholism. Chronic abusive use can lead to marked tolerance and psychological dependence with varying degrees of abnormal behavior. Frank psychotic episodes can occur, especially with parenteral abuse.

In two placebo-controlled human abuse potential studies, single oral doses of CONCERTA® were compared to single oral doses of immediate-release methylphenidate (IR MPH) and placebo in subjects with a history of recreational stimulant use to assess relative abuse potential. For the purpose of this assessment, the response for each of the subjective measures was defined as the maximum effect within the first 8 hours after dose administration.

In one study (n=40), both CONCERTA® (108 mg) and 60 mg IR MPH compared to placebo produced statistically significantly greater responses on the five subjective measures suggestive of abuse potential. In comparisons between the two active treatments, however, CONCERTA® (108 mg) produced variable responses on positive subjective measures that were either statistically indistinguishable from (Abuse Potential, Drug Liking, Amphetamine, and Morphine Benzedrine Group [Euphoria]) or statistically less than (Stimulation – Euphoria) responses produced by 60 mg IR MPH.

In another study (n=49), both doses of CONCERTA® (54 mg and 108 mg) and both doses of IR MPH (50 mg and 90 mg) produced statistically significantly greater responses compared to placebo on the two primary scales used in the study (Drug Liking, Euphoria). When doses of CONCERTA® (54 mg and 108 mg) were compared to IR MPH (50 mg and 90 mg), respectively, CONCERTA® produced statistically significantly lower subjective responses on these two scales than IR MPH. CONCERTA® (108 mg) produced responses that were statistically indistinguishable from the responses on these two scales produced by IR MPH (50 mg). Differences in subjective responses to the respective doses should be considered in the context that only 22% of the total amount of methylphenidate in CONCERTA® tablets is available for immediate release from the drug overcoat [see System Components and Performance (11.1)].

Although these findings reveal a relatively lower response to CONCERTA® on subjective measures suggestive of abuse potential compared to IR MPH at roughly equivalent total MPH doses, the relevance of these findings to the abuse potential of CONCERTA® in the community is unknown.

9.3 Dependence

As noted in the Box Warning, careful supervision is required during withdrawal from abusive use since severe depression may occur. Withdrawal following chronic therapeutic use may unmask symptoms of the underlying disorder that may require follow-up.


10.1 Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of CONCERTA® overdosage, resulting principally from overstimulation of the CNS and from excessive sympathomimetic effects, may include the following: vomiting, agitation, muscle twitching, convulsion, grand mal convulsion, confusional state, hallucinations (auditory and/or visual), hyperhidrosis, headache, pyrexia, tachycardia, palpitations, heart rate increased, sinus arrhythmia, hypertension, mydriasis, and dry mouth.

10.2 Recommended Treatment

Treatment consists of appropriate supportive measures. The patient must be protected against self-injury and against external stimuli that would aggravate overstimulation already present. Gastric contents may be evacuated by gastric lavage as indicated. Before performing gastric lavage, control agitation and seizures if present and protect the airway. Other measures to detoxify the gut include administration of activated charcoal and a cathartic. Intensive care must be provided to maintain adequate circulation and respiratory exchange; external cooling procedures may be required for pyrexia.

Efficacy of peritoneal dialysis or extracorporeal hemodialysis for CONCERTA® overdosage has not been established.

The prolonged release of methylphenidate from CONCERTA® should be considered when treating patients with overdose.

10.3 Poison Control Center

As with the management of all overdosage, the possibility of multiple-drug ingestion should be considered. The physician may wish to consider contacting a poison control center for up-to-date information on the management of overdosage with methylphenidate.


CONCERTA® is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. CONCERTA® is available in four tablet strengths. Each extended-release tablet for once-a-day oral administration contains 18, 27, 36, or 54 mg of methylphenidate HCl USP and is designed to have a 12-hour duration of effect. Chemically, methylphenidate HCl is d,l (racemic) methyl α-phenyl-2-piperidineacetate hydrochloride. Its empirical formula is C14H19NO2•HCl. Its structural formula is:

Chemical Structure

Methylphenidate HCl USP is a white, odorless crystalline powder. Its solutions are acid to litmus. It is freely soluble in water and in methanol, soluble in alcohol, and slightly soluble in chloroform and in acetone. Its molecular weight is 269.77.

CONCERTA® also contains the following inert ingredients: butylated hydroxytoluene, carnauba wax, cellulose acetate, hypromellose, lactose, phosphoric acid, poloxamer, polyethylene glycol, polyethylene oxides, povidone, propylene glycol, sodium chloride, stearic acid, succinic acid, synthetic iron oxides, titanium dioxide, and triacetin.

11.1 System Components and Performance

CONCERTA® uses osmotic pressure to deliver methylphenidate HCl at a controlled rate. The system, which resembles a conventional tablet in appearance, comprises an osmotically active trilayer core surrounded by a semipermeable membrane with an immediate-release drug overcoat. The trilayer core is composed of two drug layers containing the drug and excipients, and a push layer containing osmotically active components. There is a precision-laser drilled orifice on the drug-layer end of the tablet. In an aqueous environment, such as the gastrointestinal tract, the drug overcoat dissolves within one hour, providing an initial dose of methylphenidate. Water permeates through the membrane into the tablet core. As the osmotically active polymer excipients expand, methylphenidate is released through the orifice. The membrane controls the rate at which water enters the tablet core, which in turn controls drug delivery. Furthermore, the drug release rate from the system increases with time over a period of 6 to 7 hours due to the drug-concentration gradient incorporated into the two drug layers of CONCERTA®. The biologically inert components of the tablet remain intact during gastrointestinal transit and are eliminated in the stool as a tablet shell along with insoluble core components. It is possible that CONCERTA® extended-release tablets may be visible on abdominal x-rays under certain circumstances, especially when digital enhancing techniques are utilized.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Methylphenidate HCl is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. The mode of therapeutic action in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not known. Methylphenidate is thought to block the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine into the presynaptic neuron and increase the release of these monoamines into the extraneuronal space.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

Methylphenidate is a racemic mixture comprised of the d- and l-isomers. The d-isomer is more pharmacologically active than the l-isomer.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics


Methylphenidate is readily absorbed. Following oral administration of CONCERTA®, plasma methylphenidate concentrations increase rapidly, reaching an initial maximum at about 1 hour, followed by gradual ascending concentrations over the next 5 to 9 hours, after which a gradual decrease begins. Mean times to reach peak plasma concentrations across all doses of CONCERTA® occurred between 6 and 10 hours.

CONCERTA® once daily minimizes the fluctuations between peak and trough concentrations associated with immediate-release methylphenidate three times daily (see Figure 1). The relative bioavailability of CONCERTA® once daily and methylphenidate three times daily in adults is comparable.

Figure 1
(click image for full-size original)

Figure 1. Mean methylphenidate plasma concentrations in 36 adults, following a single dose of CONCERTA® 18 mg once daily and immediate-release methylphenidate 5 mg three times daily administered every 4 hours.

The mean single-dose pharmacokinetic parameters in 36 healthy adults following the administration of CONCERTA® 18 mg once daily and methylphenidate 5 mg three times daily are summarized in Table 6.

TABLE 6. Pharmacokinetic Parameters (Mean ± SD) After Single Dose in Healthy Adults
(18 mg once daily)
(5 mg three times daily)
Cmax (ng/mL)3.7 ± 1.04.2 ± 1.0
Tmax (h)6.8 ± 1.86.5 ± 1.8
AUCinf (ng∙h/mL)41.8 ± 13.938.0 ± 11.0
t½ (h)3.5 ± 0.43.0 ± 0.5

The pharmacokinetics of CONCERTA® were evaluated in healthy adults following single- and multiple-dose administration (steady state) of doses up to 144 mg/day. The mean half-life was about 3.6 hours. No differences in the pharmacokinetics of CONCERTA® were noted following single and repeated once-daily dosing, indicating no significant drug accumulation. The AUC and t1/2 following repeated once-daily dosing are similar to those following the first dose of CONCERTA® in a dose range of 18 to 144 mg.

Dose Proportionality

Following administration of CONCERTA® in single doses of 18, 36, and 54 mg/day to healthy adults, Cmax and AUC (0–inf) of d-methylphenidate were proportional to dose, whereas l-methylphenidate Cmax and AUC (0–inf) increased disproportionately with respect to dose. Following administration of CONCERTA®, plasma concentrations of the l-isomer were approximately 1/40 the plasma concentrations of the d-isomer.

In healthy adults, single and multiple dosing of once-daily CONCERTA® doses from 54 to 144 mg/day resulted in linear and dose-proportional increases in Cmax and AUCinf for total methylphenidate (MPH) and its major metabolite, α-phenyl-piperidine acetic acid (PPAA). There was no time dependency in the pharmacokinetics of methylphenidate. The ratio of metabolite (PPAA) to parent drug (MPH) was constant across doses from 54 to 144 mg/day, both after single dose and upon multiple dosing.

In a multiple-dose study in adolescent ADHD patients aged 13 to 16 administered their prescribed dose (18 to 72 mg/day) of CONCERTA®, mean Cmax and AUCTAU of d- and total methylphenidate increased proportionally with respect to dose.


Plasma methylphenidate concentrations in adults and adolescents decline biexponentially following oral administration. The half-life of methylphenidate in adults and adolescents following oral administration of CONCERTA® was approximately 3.5 hours.

Metabolism and Excretion

In humans, methylphenidate is metabolized primarily by de-esterification to PPAA, which has little or no pharmacologic activity. In adults the metabolism of CONCERTA® once daily as evaluated by metabolism to PPAA is similar to that of methylphenidate three times daily. The metabolism of single and repeated once-daily doses of CONCERTA® is similar.

After oral dosing of radiolabeled methylphenidate in humans, about 90% of the radioactivity was recovered in urine. The main urinary metabolite was PPAA, accounting for approximately 80% of the dose.

Food Effects

In patients, there were no differences in either the pharmacokinetics or the pharmacodynamic performance of CONCERTA® when administered after a high-fat breakfast. There is no evidence of dose dumping in the presence or absence of food.

Special Populations


In healthy adults, the mean dose-adjusted AUC (0–inf) values for CONCERTA® were 36.7 ng∙h/mL in men and 37.1 ng∙h/mL in women, with no differences noted between the two groups.


In adults receiving CONCERTA®, dose-adjusted AUC (0–inf) was consistent across ethnic groups; however, the sample size may have been insufficient to detect ethnic variations in pharmacokinetics.


Increase in age resulted in increased apparent oral clearance (CL/F) (58% increase in adolescents compared to children). Some of these differences could be explained by body-weight differences among these populations. This suggests that subjects with higher body weight may have lower exposures of total methylphenidate at similar doses.

The pharmacokinetics of CONCERTA® have not been studied in children less than 6 years of age.

Renal Insufficiency

There is no experience with the use of CONCERTA® in patients with renal insufficiency. After oral administration of radiolabeled methylphenidate in humans, methylphenidate was extensively metabolized and approximately 80% of the radioactivity was excreted in the urine in the form of PPAA. Since renal clearance is not an important route of methylphenidate clearance, renal insufficiency is expected to have little effect on the pharmacokinetics of CONCERTA®.

Hepatic Insufficiency

There is no experience with the use of CONCERTA® in patients with hepatic insufficiency.


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, and Impairment of Fertility


In a lifetime carcinogenicity study carried out in B6C3F1 mice, methylphenidate caused an increase in hepatocellular adenomas and, in males only, an increase in hepatoblastomas at a daily dose of approximately 60 mg/kg/day. This dose is approximately 30 times and 4 times the maximum recommended human dose of CONCERTA® on a mg/kg and mg/m2 basis, respectively. Hepatoblastoma is a relatively rare rodent malignant tumor type. There was no increase in total malignant hepatic tumors. The mouse strain used is sensitive to the development of hepatic tumors, and the significance of these results to humans is unknown.

Methylphenidate did not cause any increases in tumors in a lifetime carcinogenicity study carried out in F344 rats; the highest dose used was approximately 45 mg/kg/day, which is approximately 22 times and 5 times the maximum recommended human dose of CONCERTA® on a mg/kg and mg/m2 basis, respectively.

In a 24-week carcinogenicity study in the transgenic mouse strain p53+/-, which is sensitive to genotoxic carcinogens, there was no evidence of carcinogenicity. Male and female mice were fed diets containing the same concentration of methylphenidate as in the lifetime carcinogenicity study; the high-dose groups were exposed to 60 to 74 mg/kg/day of methylphenidate.


Methylphenidate was not mutagenic in the in vitro Ames reverse mutation assay or the in vitro mouse lymphoma cell forward mutation assay. Sister chromatid exchanges and chromosome aberrations were increased, indicative of a weak clastogenic response, in an in vitro assay in cultured Chinese Hamster Ovary cells. Methylphenidate was negative in vivo in males and females in the mouse bone marrow micronucleus assay.

Impairment of Fertility

Methylphenidate did not impair fertility in male or female mice that were fed diets containing the drug in an 18-week Continuous Breeding study. The study was conducted at doses up to 160 mg/kg/day, approximately 80-fold and 8-fold the highest recommended human dose of CONCERTA® on a mg/kg and mg/m2 basis, respectively.