The Efficacy of Atomoxetine for the Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Comprehensive Review of Over a Decade of Clinical Research

Nicola C. Savill (Lead / Corresponding author), Jan K. Buitelaar, Ernie Anand, Kathleen Ann Day, Tamás Treuer, Himanshu P. Upadhyaya, David Coghill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    16 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Atomoxetine was first licensed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents in the US in 2002. The aim of this paper is to comprehensively review subsequent publications addressing the efficacy of atomoxetine in 6- to 18-year-olds with ADHD. We identified 125 eligible papers using a predefined search strategy. Overall, these papers demonstrate that atomoxetine is an effective treatment for the core ADHD symptoms (effect sizes 0.6-1.3, vs. placebo, at 6-18 weeks), and improves functional outcomes and quality of life, in various pediatric populations with ADHD (i.e., males/females, patients with co-morbidities, children/adolescents, and with/without prior exposure to other ADHD medications). Initial responses to atomoxetine may be apparent within 1 week of treatment, but can take longer (median 23 days in a 6-week study; n = 72). Responses often build gradually over time, and may not be robust until after 3 months. A pooled analysis of six randomized placebo-controlled trials (n = 618) indicated that responses at 4 weeks may predict response at 6-9 weeks, although another pooled analysis of open-label data (n = 338) suggests that the probability of a robust response to atomoxetine [≥40 % decrease in ADHD-Rating Scale (ADHD-RS) scores] may continue to increase beyond 6-9 weeks. Atomoxetine may demonstrate similar efficacy to methylphenidate, particularly immediate-release methylphenidate, although randomized controlled trials are generally limited by short durations (3-12 weeks). In conclusion, notwithstanding these positive findings, before initiating treatment with atomoxetine, it is important that the clinician sets appropriate expectations for the patient and their family with regard to the likelihood of a gradual response, which often builds over time.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)131-151
    JournalCNS Drugs
    Volume29
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2015

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