What is Ritalin?
Methylphenidate (trade names Concerta, Methylin, Medikinet, Ritalin, Equasym XL, Quillivant XR, Metadate) is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the phenethylamine and piperidine classes that is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and narcolepsy. Methylphenidate has been studied and researched for over 50 years and has a very good efficacy and safety record for the treatment of ADHD. The original patent was owned by CIBA, now Novartis Corporation. It was first licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1955 for treating what was then known as hyperactivity.
Prescribed to patients beginning in 1960, the drug has become increasingly heavily prescribed since the 1990s, when the diagnosis of ADHD itself became more widely accepted. Between 2007 and 2012 methylphenidate prescriptions increased by 50% in Britain and in 2013 global methylphenidate consumption increased to 2.4 billion doses, a 66% increase compared to the year before. The US continues to account for more than 80% of global consumption. While some people fear that methylphenidate is being over-prescribed without enough research into its harmful effects, others see it as a useful medication for relieving ADHD with few side effects.
ADHD and other similar conditions are believed to be linked to sub-performance of the dopamine and norepinephrine functions in the brain, primarily in the prefrontal cortex, responsible for self-regulatory function (e.g., inhibition, motivation, and memory) and executive function (e.g., reasoning, organizing, problem solving, and planning). Methylphenidate's mechanism of action involves the inhibition of catecholamine reuptake, primarily as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Methylphenidate acts by blocking the dopamine transporter and norepinephrine transporter, leading to increased concentrations of dopamine and norepinephrine within the synaptic cleft. This effect in turn leads to increased neurotransmission of dopamine and norepinephrine. Methylphenidate is also a 5HT1A receptor agonist.