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Stimulant Medications More Effective In Treating ADHD Than Nonstimulants

Children with ADHD responded positively when treated with stimulant medications rather than nonstimulant medications or novel stimulants//. Researchers have proved that stimulant medications, such as mixed amphetamine salts (MAS) and methylphenidates are significantly more effective when compared with nonstimulant medications such as modafinil.

This conclusion is based on a meta-analysis of 29 controlled-treatment studies representing the past 25 years of research involving nearly 4,500 children with ADHD presented recently at the 2006 American Psychiatric Association meeting in Toronto, Canada.

Among stimulant medications classes, long-acting mixed amphetamine salts (MAS XR) and immediate-release mixed amphetamine salts showed a similar level of efficacy to short- or long-acting methylphenidates. The effectiveness of short- and long-acting stimulants did not differ from one another.

“The larger effect sizes we calculated for stimulant ADHD medications, compared to nonstimulants or the novel stimulant modafinil, leads us to conclude that amphetamine and methylphenidate based stimulant medications are more effective in treating symptoms of ADHD,” said Stephen V. Faraone, Ph.D., lead researcher and director of child and adolescent psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University. “Our results should help physicians who have had to rely on qualitative comparisons among published trials, along with their own clinical experience, to draw conclusions about an ADHD medication’s relative efficacy because of largely absent direct head-to-head drug comparisons.”

The researchers compared study outcomes using effect sizes, a commonly used, standard statistical measure to determine the magnitude of a particular effect resulting from an intervention, such as a drug used on a population, irrespective of the population size. Effect sizes are generally categorized as small (0.2), medium (0.5) and large (0.8). Standardized mean averages, or
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