A randomized, double-blind, crossover study of once-daily dexmethylphenidate in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: rapid onset of effect

CNS Drugs. 2008;22(8):693-704. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200822080-00006.


Background: Long-acting methylphenidate formulations provide control of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms for up to 12 hours; however, not all formulations have rapid onset of therapeutic effect, which is essential for providing symptom control during morning hours. The primary objective of this randomized, double-blind, crossover study was to assess the efficacy of dexmethylphenidate extended release (ER) versus placebo by measuring the change from pre-dose to 0.5 hours post-dose on the Swanson, Kotkin, Agler, M-Flynn and Pelham (SKAMP) rating scale.

Methods: Eighty-six children (6-12 years) with ADHD diagnosed using the DSM-IV criteria were randomized to receive dexmethylphenidate ER 20 mg/day or placebo, sequentially, for 7 days, with the final dose administered in a laboratory classroom setting on day 7 of each treatment period. The primary efficacy comparison was change in the SKAMP-Combined score from pre-dose to 0.5 hours post-dose, with additional secondary assessments at 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8 hours post-dose. Secondary efficacy measures included change from pre-dose at all timepoints in the SKAMP-Attention and SKAMP-Deportment, Math Test-Attempted and Math Test-Correct scores, and change from baseline on the Conners' ADHD/DSM-IV Scale for Parents (CADS-P). In an exploratory analysis, a daily diary card was completed by parents on the children's in-home behaviour before school. Safety was assessed by occurrence of adverse events, monitoring of vital signs and interpretation of ECGs.

Results: Significant improvements were noted at 0.5 hours and at all timepoints post-dose throughout the 8-hour laboratory classroom day for dexmethylphenidate ER vs placebo in the primary outcome measure of the SKAMP-Combined scores (p < 0.001), as well as SKAMP-Attention, SKAMP-Deportment, Math Test-Attempted and Math Test-Correct scores (p < 0.05). The changes from baseline in CADS-P scores were significantly greater with dexmethylphenidate ER than placebo (-16.382 vs -4.622; p < 0.001). Responses to all diary questions indicated significant improvement with dexmethylphenidate ER treatment versus placebo (all p < 0.001). The most common adverse events were abdominal pain (dexmethylphenidate ER 3.5%; placebo 4.7%), headache (dexmethylphenidate ER 3.5%; placebo 2.3%) and increased appetite (dexmethylphenidate ER 0%; placebo 3.5%).

Conclusion: Compared with placebo, once-daily dexmethylphenidate ER 20 mg provided rapid and significant improvement at 0.5 hours post-dose in attention, deportment and academic performance, which was sustained for 8 hours post-dose. Overall, once-daily dexmethylphenidate ER 20 mg was well tolerated. In an analysis of parental assessment of diary responses, children appeared more organized, and morning preparation for school was smoother and less frustrating with once-daily dexmethylphenidate ER compared with placebo.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Dexmethylphenidate Hydrochloride
  • Methylphenidate