Generic Name: methylphenidate, Oral tablet

Generic Name:

methylphenidate, Oral tablet

Methylin,Ritalin

All Brands

  • Methylin
  • Ritalin
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for methylphenidate

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1

Methylphenidate is used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

2

Your doctor will decide the correct dose of methylphenidate for you. Your dose will depend on the condition you’re treating and the form of the drug you’re taking.

3

Common side effects include headache, decreased appetite, upset stomach, nausea, nervousness, and trouble sleeping.

4

Methylphenidate is a federally controlled substance because it can be abused or lead to dependence. Selling or giving it away may harm others and is against the law.

5

Don’t take methylphenidate if you have heart issues, mental health conditions, or problems with circulation to your fingers or toes. Taking this drug can make these issues worse.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA Warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects.

Abuse and dependence. Taking methylphenidate for a long period of time may lead to dependence and addiction. Use it with caution if you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse. Your doctor will stop this medication slowly to prevent symptoms of withdrawal.

May cause heart problems

Methylphenidate may cause stroke, heart attack, or sudden death in people with heart issues. People with serious heart problems shouldn’t take this drug.

This medication may increase your blood pressure and heart rate. If you have high blood pressure, heart failure, a history of heart attack, or an abnormal heart rate, ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

Risk of psychiatric disorders

If you have mental health conditions, this drug may make your symptoms worse. It can also cause psychotic or manic symptoms in children and teenagers without a history of these problems. They may have symptoms such as seeing, hearing, or believing things that aren’t real, or feeling suspicious.

Risk of digestive problems

This warning is only for the brand Concerta. Concerta may cause a blockage of the esophagus, stomach, or intestines in people who already have a narrowing in any of these organs. Concerta tablets should only be used if you can swallow the tablet whole. Cutting or breaking apart the tablet might increase the amount of medication in your body. This increases your risk of side effects.

Drug Features

Methylphenidate is a prescription drug and a controlled substance. It’s available in these forms: various oral tablet and capsule forms, transdermal patch, oral liquid forms.

This drug may be available in its generic form. Generic drugs often cost less. In some cases they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the generic will work for you.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you need to take it with other drugs.

Why It's Used

Methylphenidate is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It may help to increase attention and decrease impulsiveness and hyperactivity if you have ADHD.

How It Works

Methylphenidate belongs to a class of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants.

More Details

How It Works

Methylphenidate belongs to a class of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. It works by increasing the amount of the chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine in your brain. These chemicals send signals to other parts of your body, which will help to improve your symptoms.

SECTION 2 of 5

methylphenidate Side Effects

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Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with methylphenidate include:

  • headache

  • decreased appetite

  • upset stomach

  • nervousness

  • trouble sleeping

  • nausea

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • heart problems. Symptoms may include:

    • pain in your chest, left arm, jaw, or between your shoulders
    • increased blood pressure
    • increased heart rate
    • shortness of breath
  • stroke. Symptoms may include:

    • weakness in one part or side of your body
    • slurred speech
  • mental health problems. Symptoms may include:

    • symptoms of mania, such as racing thoughts, feelings of power, and excessive energy
    • aggression or hostility
    • hearing voices
    • seeing or believing things that aren’t real
    • feeling suspicious
    • feeling overexcited
  • seizures

  • slowed growth (height and weight) in children

  • changes in eyesight or blurred vision

  • circulation problems. Symptoms in your fingers or toes may include:

    • numbness
    • feeling cool (sensitive to temperature)
    • pain
    • changes in skin color from pale to blue to red
    • new, unexplained wounds
  • painful and prolonged erections (priapism)

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Methylphenidate does not cause drowsiness.

Mild side effects may disappear within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

methylphenidate May Interact with Other Medications

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Methylphenidate can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Alcohol Interaction

Alcohol may increase the effects of methylphenidate. You should not use alcohol while taking this drug.

Alcohol may cause Metadate CD and Ritalin LA to be released in your body more quickly. This can cause more side effects and lower the effect of the medication.

Medications That Might Interact with This Drug

Acid reflux drugs

These include:

  • antacids
  • H2 blockers
  • proton pump inhibitors

These drugs may increase the level of methylphenidate in your body and lead to more side effects. These medications may also affect the way long-acting forms of methylphenidate work.

Depression drugs

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), including:

  • isocarboxazid (Marplan)
  • phenelzine (Nardil)
  • tranylcypromine (Parnate)
  • selegiline (Emsam, Eldepryl, Zelapar)

These medications can cause levels of methylphenidate to increase in your body. This raises your risk for high blood pressure. These drugs shouldn’t be used together.

Tricyclic antidepressants, including:

  • amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • desipramine (Norpramin)
  • doxepin (Sinequan)
  • imipramine (Tofranil)
  • nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • protriptyline (Vivactil)
  • trimipramine (Surmontil)

Using these drugs with methylphenidate may increase the amount of the antidepressant in your body. This can lead to more side effects.

Blood pressure drugs

These include:

  • angiotensin II receptor blockers:
    • losartan
    • valsartan
    • irbesartan
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors:
    • enalapril
    • lisinopril
  • diuretics:
    • hydrochlorothiazide
    • furosemide

Methylphenidate may reduce the blood pressure-lowering effects of these medications. This means that they will be less effective.

Antipsychotics

These include:

  • chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • haloperidol (Haldol)

Using these drugs with methylphenidate may increase your risk of side effects of both medications. 

Seizure medicines

Examples are:

  • phenytoin
  • phenobarbital

Methylphenidate may increase the amount of the seizure medicine in your body. This can lead to more side effects from the seizure medicine.

Blood thinner
  • warfarin

Methylphenidate may increase the effect of warfarin in your body, which can raise your risk of bleeding.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with heart problems

Methylphenidate may increase the risk of sudden death, stroke, and heart attack. If you have a heart condition, a history of heart attack, high blood pressure, or an abnormal heart rate, ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

People with psychiatric disorders

Methylphenidate may make the symptoms of your condition worse. It can also cause new psychotic symptoms, especially in children and adolescents. You may need to stop taking this drug if this happens.

People with aggression

If you or your child tends to be anxious, tense, or agitated, don’t take methylphenidate. It can make these symptoms worse.

People with circulation problems

This drug can make circulation problems in your fingers and toes worse.

People with seizures

If you or your child has a history of seizures, don’t take methylphenidate. It may increase the chance of having a seizure.

People with glaucoma

Methylphenidate may worsen your vision.

People with growth issues

Methylphenidate has been shown to stop growth in children. Your child’s doctor will monitor your child’s height and weight. If your child is not gaining height or weight, methylphenidate may need to be stopped.

People with digestive tract problems

Don’t use Concerta if you have a blockage in your esophagus, stomach, or small or large intestine. Concerta can make this problem worse. 

Pregnant women

Methylphenidate is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect a fetus.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Methylphenidate should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are breast-feeding

Methylphenidate may pass through breast milk. It can cause serious effects in a breastfeeding child.

You and your doctor may need to decide if you’ll take methylphenidate or breastfeed.

For seniors

The safety and effectiveness of this drug haven’t been established in people over 65 years of age.

For children

The safety and effectiveness of this drug haven’t been established in children under 6 years old.

Children should have their growth monitored by their doctor while they’re taking methylphenidate.

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take methylphenidate (Dosage)

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All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Methylphenidate Generic

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg
Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 18 mg, 20 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg, and 54 mg
Form: Oral CD extended-release tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, and 60 mg
Form: Oral 24-hour capsule
Strengths: 20 mg, 30 mg, and 40 mg
Form: Chewable tablet
Strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg

Brand: Ritalin

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg
Form: Oral 24-hour capsule
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, and 40 mg

Brand: Concerta

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 18 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg, and 54 mg

Brand: Metadate

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 20 mg
Form: Oral CD extended-release tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, and 60 mg

Brand: Methylin

Form: Chewable tablet
Strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg

Concerta:

Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)
  • The standard dose is 18 mg or 36 mg taken once per day.
  • Your doctor may increase your dose by 18 mg each week up to a maximum of 72 mg per day.
Child Dosage (ages 13-17 years)
  • The standard dose is 18 mg per day.
  • Your doctor may increase your dose by 18 mg each week up to a maximum of 72 mg per day.
Child Dosage (ages 6-12 years)
  • The standard dose is 18 mg per day.
  • Your doctor may increase your dose by 18 mg each week up to a maximum of 54 mg per day.
Child Dosage (ages 0-5 years)

Dosages for people younger than 6 years haven’t been established.

Extended-release capsules:

Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)
  • The standard dosage is 20 mg taken once per day in the morning.
  • Your doctor may increase your dose by 10—20 mg each week, up to a maximum of 60 mg per day.
Child Dosage (ages 6-17 years)
  • The standard dose is 20 mg taken once per day in the morning.
  • Your doctor may adjust your dose by 10—20 mg each week.
Child Dosage (ages 0-5 years)

Dosages for people younger than 6 years haven’t been established.

Immediate-release tablets, chewable tablets, and Metadate extended-release tablets:

Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)

The standard dosage is 20—30 mg per day taken in 2—3 divided doses.

Child Dosage (ages 6-17 years)
  • The standard dosage is 5 mg taken twice per day before breakfast and lunch.
  • Your doctor may increase your dose by 5—10 mg each week.
Child Dosage (ages 0-5 years)

Dosages for people younger than 6 years haven’t been established.

Warnings

Methylphenidate shouldn’t be taken late at night because it may cause trouble sleeping.

Narcolepsy

Methylphenidate Generic

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg
Form: Chewable tablet
Strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg

Brand: Ritalin

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg

Brand: Methylin

Form: Chewable tablet
Strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)

The standard dosage is 20—30 mg taken 2—3 times per day in divided doses.

Child Dosage (ages 6-17 years)
  • The standard dose is 5 mg taken twice each day before breakfast and lunch.
  • Your doctor may increase your dose by 5—10 mg per week.
Child Dosage (ages 0-5 years)

Dosages for people younger than 6 years haven’t been established.

Warnings

Methylphenidate shouldn’t be taken late at night because it may cause trouble sleeping.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Methylphenidate comes with serious risks if you don't take it as prescribed.

If You Stop Taking It

If you stop taking methylphenidate, your symptoms won’t be controlled. If you’ve been taking high doses of this drug for a long time and stop it suddenly, you may have extreme tiredness, fatigue, or severe depression.

If You Don’t Take It on Schedule

If you take methylphenidate later in the day, you may have trouble falling asleep. 

If You Take Too Much

If you take too much methylphenidate, you may experience:

  • restlessness
  • muscle pain and weakness
  • faster breathing
  • confusion
  • high or low blood pressure
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • seizures
  • coma

Get medical help at once if you suspect you or your child has taken too much methylphenidate.

What to Do If You Miss a Dose

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible. If it’s almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a single dose.

Don’t double the dose to try to catch up. This could result in toxic side effects.

How to Tell If the Drug Is Working

You may be able to tell if the drug is working for ADHD if you’re able to focus and pay attention better and be less impulsive and hyperactive.

If methylphenidate is working for your narcolepsy, you may feel less sleepy and more alert.

Methylphenidate may be short-term or long-term drug.

This drug is usually stopped after puberty. Your doctor may try to stop the methylphenidate on occasion to see if you still need to take it. If your symptoms return, you may need to continue taking it.

Important Considerations for Taking Methylphenidate

Certain forms shouldn’t be taken with food

If you take the immediate-release tablets, chewable tablets, or solution, take methylphenidate 30—45 minutes before meals.

Take at the right times for best effects

Methylphenidate extended-release capsules/tablets:

Take this medication when you wake up. It’s an extended-release form and will release the medicine into your body throughout the day. Don’t take it in the late afternoon or at night because it can cause trouble sleeping.

Don’t cut or crush the extended-release forms

You can swallow the extended-release capsules whole with water. You can also open them and sprinkle the entire contents onto a spoonful of applesauce. Swallow the applesauce whole without chewing. Eat it all at once. Don’t store the applesauce for later.

Do not chew, crush, or divide the extended-release tablets. Swallow them whole with water or other liquids.

Each form may be stored differently

  • Methylin: Store the chewable tablets in temperatures from 68—77°F (20—25°C).
  • Concerta, Metadate CD, Ritalin, Ritalin LA: Try to store the tablets and capsules at 77°F (25°C). Make sure to keep it in temperatures from 59—86°F (15–30°C). 
  • Metadate ER: Try to store it at 68—77°F (20—25°C). Make sure to keep it in temperatures from 59—86°F (15–30°C) at all times.

Don’t freeze methylphenidate. Keep it away from high temperatures. Keep it away from light.

Note: Keep your drugs away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store this drug away from moisture and damp locations.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt this medication.
  • You may need to show your pharmacy’s label to identify the medication. Keep the original pharmacy prescription-labeled box with you when traveling.
  • This is a controlled substance. You won’t have refills from your doctor. Be sure to check that you have enough medication before you leave on your trip.

Clinical Monitoring

Your doctor will check you for the following while you take this drug:

  • blood pressure and heart rate
  • signs of aggressive behavior or changes in mental health conditions
  • growth and weight in children

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for methylphenidate.

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

What does the pill look like?

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How Much Does methylphenidate Cost?

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Lowest price for methylphenidate

Target $14.46
Kroger Pharmacy $18.90
CVS Pharmacy $38.30
These represent the lowest cash prices for methylphenidate and may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on June 1, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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