Of the drugs available for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the most effective and safe for short-term treatment is methylphenidate for children, and amphetamines for adults, according to the most comprehensive evidence yet from a network meta-analysis and systematic review comparing the effectiveness and safety of seven ADHD drugs against placebo, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.
The study, which was led by Prof Andrea Cipriani, compared the effectiveness and side effects of amphetamines (including lisdexamfetamine), atomoxetine, bupropion, clonidine, guanfacine, methylphenidate, and modafinil with each other or with placebo over 12 weeks of treatment. However, more research to confirm longer term effects of ADHD medications is urgently needed.
Although they are commonly prescribed for people with ADHD, the study did not include antipsychotic drugs or antidepressants as they do not treat ADHD core symptoms. The study also does not include psychological therapies used for ADHD, but the authors say that these should be regularly discussed with people with ADHD and their family members or carers, and possibly offered before ADHD medications, if appropriate, especially for children and adolescents.