Focalin vs. Kapvay

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Helps you focus and stay alert. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is a first-choice treatment for ADHD that's available as a generic, but it's a stimulant, so it can cause insomnia and other side effects.Treats ADHD and lowers blood pressure. Clonidine is a non-stimulant option to manage ADHD symptoms and behaviors, but it can lower your blood pressure.
How it works
Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is a stimulant. Researchers don't know exactly how it works for ADHD, but it increases norepinephrine and dopamine activity in the brain, which affects attention and behavior.Clonidine is an alpha-2 agonist. Researchers don't know exactly how it works for ADHD. It works in the brain and lowers the activity of certain stress hormones, but it's not a stimulant like many ADHD medicines.
Type of medication
StimulantPrescription only
Alpha agonist
Prescription only
Available as
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Extended release
Used for (click to learn more)
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Reviews & ratings
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Reviews for Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
of people say Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is worth it
say it works well
say it's a big hassle
Side effects

We haven’t found good data for Focalin side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Focalin »
  • Drowsiness 34%
  • Any side effect 19%
  • Fatigue 15%
  • Irritability 5%
  • Sleep difficulty 5%
  • Headache 4%
  • Dry mouth 4%
  • Upper abdominal pain 3%
  • Emotional disorder 3%
  • Dizziness 2%
More Kapvay side effects »
Risk factors for serious side effects
  • Taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) 14 days before starting
  • History of drug abuse
  • History of heart problems
  • History of psychotic episodes
  • History of Bipolar Disorder
  • Ages 7 to 10
  • History of seizures
        Detailed Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) risks & warnings »
        • Sudden discontinuation of medicine
        • Taking with alcohol
        • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
        • Age 65 years or older
        • Using other medicine(s) that slows the heart
          Detailed Kapvay (Clonidine) risks & warnings »
          Pregnancy category
          • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
          No specific alcohol-related info.
          No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
          Kidneys and liver
          No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
          • There have been reports of men having an erection lasting more than 4 hours while on Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate). This has been rare. If not treated in time, this can cause permanent damage to your penis, including impotence. Talk to your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if this happens.
          No specific sex-related info.
          No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
          • Appetite suppression may occur. In clinical studies, long-term treatment with stimulants similar to Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) caused a temporary slowing of growth rate (both height and weight) in children who started the medication between ages 7 and 10. Doctors should monitor children's growth during treatment.
          No specific weight-related info.
          Upsides and benefits
          • Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
          • Available as a generic medication.
          • Available in both an immediate-release form, which is given twice a day, and an extended-release form, which is given once a day.
          • Capsules can be opened and sprinkled in water or applesauce for people who don't like swallowing pills.
          • Can be used alone or together with a stimulant-type medicine to treat ADHD.
          • In studies, it improved attention span and lowered hyperactivity and impulsivity in children and adolescents ages 6 to 17.
          • Also treats blood pressure and some nervous system and psychiatric conditions.
          Downsides and risks
          • Needs to be taken in the morning and early afternoon, or else it can cause insomnia later that night.
          • It's a controlled medication and should be locked up to prevent potential abuse.
          • Can lower blood pressure.
          • The pill form can make some people sleepy, dizzy, and have dry mouth.
          • You can't miss doses. Stopping Clonidine suddenly can cause your blood pressure to go up suddenly, which raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.
          Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
          • Store Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) in a locked area to prevent abuse.
          • Take it early in the morning to prevent insomnia later that night.
          • It can cause changes in your mood and vision.
          • Can raise your blood pressure and pulse, so it's not safe for people with heart problems.
          • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
          • The extended-release capsules can be opened and sprinkled on a small amount of applesauce.
          • Common side effects include a decreased appetite, nausea, and insomnia.
          • Can cause drowsiness, headache, dizziness, and dry mouth.
          • For ADHD: Might take up to 2 weeks to see effects.
          • For high blood pressure: Check your blood pressure 1 week after starting this medicine, and tell your doctor if it hasn't improved.
          • If side effects don't go away, talk to your doctor about alternatives.
          • Don't stop taking this medicine suddenly.
          Learn more
          More about FocalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
          More about KapvaySide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert