Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that can cause high levels of hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and difficulty paying attention. Though it’s most often discovered and diagnosed in children, ADHD can last into adulthood.
Treatment for ADHD sometimes lasts years, and the cost can rise quickly. Medications, along with doctors’ appointments and checkups, come with a price tag. Before you fill a prescription for an ADHD medication, you’ll want to do some research.
If your medication costs are too high, help is available. In addition to cost-saving techniques such as mail-order prescriptions and coupons, you may be able to financial help through a patient assistance program.
Read on to learn about common ADHD medications and where you can find help with prescription expenses.
Although non-stimulant medications are available for treating ADHD, stimulants are generally considered more effective and are more commonly prescribed. Your doctor will be able to tell you what medication is right for you or your child.
Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants increase the dopamine and norepinephrine hormones in your brain, helping to increase concentration and lessen fatigue. CNS stimulants prescribed for ADHD include amphetamines, methamphetamines, and methylphenidates.
These stimulants are available in instant-release and extended-release oral forms. Popular amphetamines for treating ADHD include the following (generic names are listed in lowercase and brand names are in uppercase letters in parentheses):
- amphetamine (Dyanavel XR and Evekeo)
- amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
- dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and ProCentra)
- lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
Methamphetamines, which are available as oral tablets taken once or twice daily, may have side effects such as reducing your appetite and increasing your blood pressure.
- methamphetamine (Desoxyn)
These mild stimulants are available in immediate-release, extended-release, and controlled-release oral forms. Under the brand name Daytrana, methylphenidate is also available as a transdermal patch. Some commonly prescribed methylphenidates include:
- dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)
- methylphenidate (Aptensio XR, Concerta, Daytrana, Methylin, QuilliChew, Quillivant, and Ritalin)
Unlike the stimulants used to treat ADHD, non-stimulants don't increase dopamine levels in the brain. It may take longer to see improvement with these medications.
Your doctor might prescribe one of the following non-stimulant medications if stimulants aren't safe or effective for you or your child, or if you want to avoid their side effects.
- atomoxetine (Strattera), an immediate-release selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
- clonidine (Kapvay), an extended-release tablet also used to treat high blood pressure and help reduce distractibility and hyperactivity
- guanfacine (Intuniv), a long-acting tablet that reduces nerve impulses in your blood vessels
If you don’t have health insurance, even the generic versions of ADHD medications may be too expensive. Fortunately, there are ways you can save costs, such as by using patient assistance programs or discount prescription cards.
Patient assistance programs
Patient assistance programs (PAPs) are plans that help eligible people pay for prescriptions. They may be available for both brand name and generic medications.
The following are some of the websites that can help you find the PAPs for which you qualify.
Medicine Assistance Tool
The Medicine Assistance Tool (MAT) is a search engine created by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) to help people find financial assistance resources available through PAPs administered by pharmaceutical companies.
On the MAT website, you enter some personal information and the names of the medications you need. The search results show the programs and resources that can help you.
NeedyMeds is a national nonprofit PAP resource. It maintains a database of pharmaceutical company and private PAPs. Instead of having to search multiple websites, NeedyMeds provides you with information in one place.
RxAssist is a PAP website run by pharmaceutical companies. Instead of searching for individual PAPs that might cover your ADHD prescription, RxAssist can find several at once.
RxHope is the largest independent web-based PAP resource. You can look up the medications you need on its website and then provide the information to your doctor, who can submit an application to see if you qualify for RxHope assistance.
The following are some of the free discount prescription drug card programs that provide cost savings on generic and brand-name medications. You can download and print the card directly from the website and take it with you to the pharmacy.
If you can’t afford your current ADHD medicines, work with your doctor to find a drug that treats your symptoms but doesn’t break the bank. Resources are available, regardless of your income, age, or health insurance status.