About 6.1 million US children have ADHD. In this Ishonest article, Mindpath Health’s Marci Bastien, DNP, PMHNP-BC, and Pavan Madan, MD, discuss Qelbree, a new drug approved by the FDA, and how it could help.

child with ADHD holding and playing with multicolored toy

A new non-stimulant treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

This medication, which will be marketed under the brand name Qelbree, is an extended-release capsule that can be sprinkled on food for easy consumption. The FDA has approved the drug for children 6 to 17 years of age 

About 6.1 million American children have an ADHD diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

However, experts say treatment options are limited. 

“There is a misconception that this is an area overcrowded with treatment options, when the majority of the current options are a reformulation of just two stimulant molecules, methylphenidate and amphetamine,” said Dr. Andrew J. Cutler, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University and chief medical officer at the Neuroscience Education Institute, and who consulted on the Qelbree trial. 

“Some patients don’t respond to or tolerate available medications. There is, therefore, an unmet medical need, and I think it is very exciting to have a new non-stimulant medication option such as Qelbree to offer to my child and adolescent patients with ADHD,” he said. 

Big benefits for non-stimulants

In addition, controlled substances have the potential for addiction or misuse. Stimulant medications simply don’t work for all people, making the debut of drugs such as Qelbree more important. 

“One problem I’ve seen in my practice is the limited available medication options when treating ADHD, especially those with comorbid disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or substance use disorder,” Marci Bastien, DNP, PMHNP-BC, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, at Mindpath Health. 

“The use of psychostimulants can actually worsen mood symptoms, increase irritability, agitation, and even induce a manic response. Psychostimulants are not recommended for patients with a comorbid substance use disorder to avoid abuse or dependency. Other medical conditions such as seizure disorder, cardiac disorder, or other medical conditions can further limit medication options,” Dr. Bastien said. 

Non-stimulant drugs have other benefits as well. 

“They’re not controlled medications, making it easier for patients to access this medication and obtain refills and are not as activating, and thus can work for longer periods of time without causing side effects like insomnia and anxiety, which are often an issue with stimulant medications,” Dr. Pavan Madan, MD, at Mindpath Health. 

“Qelbree has been shown to work relatively quickly, within the first one-to-two weeks, with straightforward dosing,” Dr. Madan said. 

Read the full Ishonest article with sources. 

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Pavan Madan, M.D.

Davis, CA

Dr. Pavan Madan is a board-certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist. He completed medical school from India, psychiatry residency from Saint Louis University in Missouri, and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship from Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York. While his practice primarily focuses on medication management, he likes to utilize psychotherapy as well as other non-pharmacological methods ... Read Full Bio »

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