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Updated 11 February 2013

Atomoxetine

Atomoxetine is a medication prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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Atomoxetine is the active ingredient of Strattera.

General Information

Atomoxetine is a medication prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - a learning and behavioural disability characterized by a very short attention span, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. It has been shown to improve behaviour at school, self esteem and family function. The drug can be safely used in children older than 6, adolescents and adults.

Atomoxetine is unique when compared to other medication for ADHD, because it is the first medication for this condition that is not a controlled substance or stimulant.

For this medication to be effective it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice an immediate effect. The full effect of atomoxetine will only be experienced after 3-4 weeks of use. It is recommended that atomoxetine should not be the only treatment for a patient with ADHD - It should be part of a complete treatment plan that includes psychological, educational and social measures designed to further assist in improving the condition.

Atomoxetine should only be taken as prescribed. Higher doses than those recommended does not provide any additional benefit.

There is a possibility that atomoxetine may slow the average growth in children, but it is unclear if weight and height of these kids are indeed affected when they reach adulthood. The manufacturer of the medication does however advise that treatment should be interrupted if it becomes apparent that weight gain and growth is not at the expected level.

If you are currently taking an antidepressant that is classified as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), you should under no circumstance start treatment with atomoxetine within 2 weeks of stopping this drug.

At the start of treatment with this medication you may feel dizzy when suddenly getting up - Be aware of this and remember to get up slowly during the first few days of treatment

How does Atomoxetine work?

Atomoxetine works by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline in the brain.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 5

Available as: Atomoxetine is available as capsules

What does it do? Atomoxetine is used to treat ADHD

Overdose risk: Medium

Dependence risk: Low

Is Atomoxetine available as a generic? No

Is Atomoxetine available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Dietary advice: Atomoxetine can be taken with or without food

Stopping this medicine: Consult your prescriber before stopping this medication. Symptoms of the condition being treated may recur.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have glaucoma
  • you have high blood pressure
  • you have a heart disease or any circulatory disorder
  • you have liver disease
  • you are taking any other medication

Pregnancy: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant

Breastfeeding: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: Safety and efficacy of this medication has not been established for children under the age of 6

Elderly: Dosage may need adjustment depending on pre-existing medical conditions

Driving and hazardous work : Caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: No special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

Constipation/ diarrhoea

x

x

Loss of appetite

x

x

Dry mouth

x

x

Headache

x

x

Stomach pain

x

x

Fatigue

x

x

Dizziness/ drowsiness

x

x

Indigestion

x

x

Nausea/ vomiting

x

x

Cough

x

x

Irritability/ mood swings

x

x

Weight loss

x

x

Skin redness/ inflammation

x

x

Abnormal dreams

x

x

Fever/ chills

x

x

Insomnia

x

x

Palpitations

x

x

Urinary retention

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors

High risk of severe side effects

Fluoxetine, Paroxetine

Risk of side effects

Quinidine

Risk of side effects

Salbutamol

Possibility of salbutamol toxicity

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart disease or any circulatory disorder or if you have liver disease.

Overdose action

In case of overdose immediate medical attention is required. Symptoms of overdose may include abnormal behaviour, agitation, dilated pupils, dry mouth and a rapid heartbeat

Recommended dosage

Children and adolescents up to 70 kg body weight: 0.5 - 1.2 mg/kg/day. Higher doses may not hold any additional benefit.

Adolescents and adults above 70 kg body weight: 40-80 mg/day. Higher doses may not hold any additional benefit.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 
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