Focalin Review

Focalin is a prescription medication that is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly referred to as ADD or ADHD. Also known as dexmethylphenidate, it is a more mild central nervous system stimulant compared to other ADHD medications (Ritalin, Adderall, etc.).

It works by interacting with the chemicals in the brain that contribute hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsive behavior.

This ADHD medication is manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, and intended for use by those ages 6 and older. The regular version was approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 2005 and the extended release version (known as XR) was approved in 2008.


This medication is available in two forms, regular and XR (Extended Release). It is usually available and administered in 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, and 20mg tablets or capsules.

The dose may be adjusted in increments of 2.5mg to 5mg up to a maximum increase of 20mg per day (10 mg twice daily).

The regular version of Focalin is typically given every 4-6 hours, while the XR version is given every 8-12 hours. Your doctor may adjust the increments as necessary in order to determine a therapeutic level.

A therapeutic level of any medication is based upon the medications reported effectiveness and individual patient reaction to the medication. For more information regarding dosage, see this helpful dosage guide.


This ADHD medication is essentially an improved, cleaner version of Methylphenidate (Ritalin) that typically lasts a bit longer with slightly decreased side effects. Compared to Ritalin, it appears to be less prone to causing sleep or appetite disturbance. It is fast-acting and usually works within 30-60 minutes.

Compared To Other ADHD Medications

For a comparison of this drug to other ADHD medications, see Focalin vs Adderall. It is important to note that all medications affect people differently, so what works for one person may not work for another. As a result, it is essential to be monitored by your prescribing doctor in order to make adjustments as needed.

Disadvantages: Risk Of Abuse

Any stimulant may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person for whom it was prescribed. The full dose of this drug is released at once if chopped, crushed and snorted. Be sure to read about the dangers of abuse. Also, it is usually more expensive compared to similar medications.

Side Effects

Side effects may include nausea, loss of appetite or weight loss, mild headache, sleep disturbances or insomnia.

Withdrawal Risk

This medication has a risk of withdrawal. See this warning regarding withdrawal.

Focalin Warnings And Precautions

It is vital that you inform your doctor if you have any of the following conditions: a history of alcohol or drug abuse, glaucoma, heart conditions or recent history of a heart attack.

Also, report any high blood pressure, liver disease, mental illness including anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, mania or schizophrenia, motor tics, or a family history or diagnosis of Tourette's syndrome.

Further, inform your doctor if you have an overactive thyroid, seizures (convulsions) or abnormal brain scan, an allergy to this drug or Ritalin, medicine allergies, food allergies, are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, or are breast-feeding.

Report any side effects or unusual reactions to your doctor. Always follow your prescription exactly as written by your doctor. Do not exceed your daily dose; never take a double dose to make up for a missed dose. Rather, take a dose at your next scheduled dosage time.

Exit Focalin To ADHD Medications
Return To ADD Treatment