Compare Ritalin vs. Focalin

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

Concerta
(Methylphenidate)

Focalin
(Dexmethylphenidate)

Helps you focus and stay alert. Concerta (Methylphenidate) is a first-choice treatment for ADHD. It comes in many different forms and is also available as a generic. That said, the immediate-release form needs to be taken more frequently than other alternatives.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.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.770873786407767Ritalin
Reviews for Concerta (Methylphenidate)
59%
of people say Concerta (Methylphenidate) is worth it
41%
say it works well
19%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
52%
7% vs. Concerta (Methylphenidate)
31%
10% vs. Concerta (Methylphenidate)
22%
3% vs. Concerta (Methylphenidate)
Side effects
RitalinFocalin

The Ritalin FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Ritalin side effects »

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

FDA side effect reports for Focalin »
How it works
RitalinFocalin
Concerta (Methylphenidate) 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.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.
Type of medication
RitalinFocalin
StimulantPrescription only
StimulantPrescription only
Available as
RitalinFocalin
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Chewable tablet
  • Oral solution
  • Liquid
  • Patch
  • Pill
  • Extended release
Used for (click to learn more)
RitalinFocalin
Risk factors for serious side effects
RitalinFocalin
  • History of heart problems
  • History of psychotic episodes
  • History of Bipolar Disorder
  • Children ages 7 to 10
  • History of drug abuse
  • History of seizures
      Detailed Concerta (Methylphenidate) risks & warnings »
      • 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 »
            Pregnancy category
            RitalinFocalin
            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
            • Patients should avoid alcohol since it'll cause worse side effects from Concerta (Methylphenidate).
            • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
            • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
            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 Concerta (Methylphenidate). This has been rare and usually happened after a person's dose of Concerta (Methylphenidate) was increased. 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.
            • 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.
            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 Concerta (Methylphenidate) caused a temporary slowing of growth rate (both height and weight) in children ages seven to ten years. Doctors should monitor children's growth during treatment.
            • 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.
            Upsides and benefits
            RitalinFocalin
            • First-choice medication to treat ADHD.
            • Concerta (Methylphenidate) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
            • Available in many different forms: extended-release and immediate-release oral tablets, chewable immediate-release tablets, liquid, suspension, and skin patches.
            • Available as a generic medication.
            • Capsules can be opened and sprinkled in water or applesauce for people who don't like swallowing pills.
            • Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
            • Available in both an immediate-release form, which is given twice a day, and an extended-release form, which is given once a day.
            • Available as a generic medication.
            • Capsules can be opened and sprinkled in water or applesauce for people who don't like swallowing pills.
            Downsides and risks
            RitalinFocalin
            • The immediate-release form needs to be taken two or three times a day.
            • After taking Concerta, the tablet shell can be seen in your stool, but don't be concerned since the medication was still absorbed by your body.
            • The second or third dose needs be taken by early afternoon, otherwise insomnia can affect you that night.
            • Patients should avoid alcohol since it'll cause worse side effects from Concerta (Methylphenidate).
            • It's a controlled medication and should be locked up to prevent potential abuse.
            • 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.
            Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
            RitalinFocalin
            • Since it comes in many different forms, there are different requirements for how to take or use each type. Make sure you know how to take the one you have.
            • Store Concerta (Methylphenidate) in a locked area to prevent abuse.
            • It can cause changes in your mood.
            • Take it early in the morning to prevent insomnia later that night.
            • 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.
            • Store Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) in a locked area to prevent abuse.
            • It can cause changes in your mood and vision.
            • 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.
            • Take it early in the morning to prevent insomnia later that night.
            • 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.
            Learn more
            More about RitalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
            More about FocalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert