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New ADHD Drug Intuniv: Benefits and Side Effects

As if children with ADHD don't have enough medication options, the FDA just released a new ADHD drug that can be used on kids as young as six years old.  This new medication is called Intuniv (guanfacine) and is manufactured by Shire Pharmaceuticals, the same company that makes other well-known ADHD drugs Adderall XR, Vyvanse, and Daytrana.  Intuniv , especially designed for kids and teens with ADHD, is a non-stimulant drug that comes in small doses of 1, 2, 3, and 4 mg pills. It is not known if this new ADHD drug is safe for children younger than 6 and or for adults.

How Intuniv works

Unlike Ritalin and other ADHD medications, Intuniv is said to be safer because it is not a central nervous system stimulant drug.  It contains an extended-release version of the active ingredient guanfacine, which acts upon norepinephrine receptors in the prefrontal cortex and locus ceruleus throughout the day.  The prefrontal cortex is the region of the brain responsible for the executive functions (e.g. working memory, impulsivity, distractibility, and attention).  Because clinical trials reported that Intuniv seems to be an effective ADHD treatment for children and teens, the FDA approved the use of the drug.

Side effects of Intuniv

It is not yet known if there are any long-term side effects from taking Intuniv, but its short-term side effects include drowsiness, sleepiness, headaches, stomach pain, nausea, irritability, constipation, and decreased appetite.  Serious side effects include fainting, low blood pressure, and low heart rate. Children with heart conditions, low blood pressure, or liver or kidney problems are not advised to take Intuniv.

The bottom line

Although Intuniv seems to be a safe, promising medical alternative to Ritalin and other stimulant drugs, its side effects may end up aggravating the symptoms of ADHD.  Sleepiness and drowsiness, for instance, will only prevent kids from paying attention in class.  While ADHD medications may be effective for some children, the best treatment for ADHD is still a holistic treatment plan that uses safe, natural remedies. Not only will natural approaches cause very few side effects, but the improvements are guaranteed to last a lifetime.