Every day our psychiatric practice receives requests to change brand name prescriptions to generic. Most of these requests are either from pharmacies or insurance companies. Many of our patients are concerned about the use of generic medications. There is no question that generic medications are significantly cheaper. Many pharmacies including Walmart and Target have rolled out very extensive generic programs. The use of generic medications has spread across the disease spectrum. ADHD medications are no exception.
Generics have been available for a long time for the short acting stimulant forms. Their use had been very wide spread for many years. However, the entrance into the market of long acting stimulant formulations decreased their use significantly. Over the last decade there has been a strong push towards the use of long acting medications. Many studies show that the use of long acting medications results in better compliance and as a result better effectiveness. Many cynics and skeptics will point out accurately that the pharmaceutical industry has benefited greatly from the use of these new long-acting formulations. This had been the case until recently when the first long acting stimulant medication to become generic became available in the last few months.
Adderall XR is the first long acting stimulant to be available as a generic. This has resulted in a flood of questions from many of my patients. Many are concerned that the generic form will not be as effective. Each case has been unique. The majority of patients have not noticed any difference. However, there are some who have noted a decrease in effectiveness. There has also been a small group that has had an increase in side effects. My recommendation is to note the day your medication was switched to the generic and to monitor for any differences. If there are no differences, then you obviously don’t need to do anything. If you are in that small group that has noticed a difference then you can contact your prescribing physician to see if a dosage adjustment gets you back on track. If that doesn’t work then you might need to pay the extra money and stay on the brand name. This approach is applicable for all medications; not just Adderall XR.
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