Compare Focalin vs. Strattera

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Focalin
(Dexmethylphenidate)

Strattera
(Atomoxetine)

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.Helps you focus and stay alert. Strattera (Atomoxetine) isn't considered a first-line medication for ADHD, but since it isn't a stimulant, it's still highly recommended.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.290076335877862Focalin
Reviews for Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
52%
of people say Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is worth it
31%
say it works well
22%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Strattera (Atomoxetine)
45%
7% vs. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
32%
+1% vs. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
25%
3% vs. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
Side effects
FocalinStrattera

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

FDA side effect reports for Focalin »
  • Nausea 20%
  • Dry mouth 15%
  • Decreased appetite 13%
  • Abdominal pain 8%
  • Drowsiness 7%
  • Impotence 7%
  • Sleep difficulty 7%
  • Dizziness 5%
  • Constipation 5%
  • Difficulty with urination flow 5%
More Strattera side effects »
How it works
FocalinStrattera
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.Strattera (Atomoxetine) is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (non-stimulant). Researchers don't know exactly how it works for ADHD, but it increases norepinephrine activity in the brain, which affects attention and behavior.
Type of medication
FocalinStrattera
StimulantPrescription only
Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)Prescription only
Available as
FocalinStrattera
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Pill
Used for (click to learn more)
FocalinStrattera
Risk factors for serious side effects
FocalinStrattera
  • 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 »
        • Age below 18
          • History of heart problems
          • History of psychotic episodes
          • History of Bipolar Disorder
              • Starting Strattera (Atomoxetine) before puberty
              Detailed Strattera (Atomoxetine) risks & warnings »
              Pregnancy category
              FocalinStrattera
              CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

              Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

              See the FDA package insert
              CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

              Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

              See the FDA package insert
              Alcohol
              • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
              No specific alcohol-related info.
              Food
              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.
              Sex
              • 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.
              • It can cause changes in sex drive.
              • There have been reports of men having an erection lasting more than 4 hours while on Strattera (Atomoxetine). 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.
              Sleep
              No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
              Weight
              • 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.
              • Appetite suppression may occur. In clinical studies, long-term treatment with stimulants similar to Strattera (Atomoxetine) caused a temporary slowing of growth rate (both height and weight) in children who started the medication before they started puberty. Doctors should monitor children's growth during treatment.
              Upsides and benefits
              FocalinStrattera
              • 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.
              • One of the few medications used to treat ADHD that's not a stimulant.
              • It isn't a controlled substance.
              • Strattera (Atomoxetine) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
              • You usually only need to take it once a day.
              Downsides and risks
              FocalinStrattera
              • 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.
              • It's a second-line medication used to treat ADHD. Other medications are usually tried first.
              • It's only available as a brand name medication, so it can be expensive.
              Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
              FocalinStrattera
              • 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.
              • 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 raise your blood pressure and pulse, so it's not safe for people with heart problems.
              • It can cause changes in sex drive.
              • It can also cause changes in your mood.
              • Take it at the same time every day.
              • Common side effects include decreased appetite, nausea, and constipation.
              • The capsules can't be opened and need to be swallowed whole.
              • Can raise your blood pressure and pulse, so it's not safe for people with heart problems.
              Learn more
              More about FocalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
              More about StratteraSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert