Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Flexible-Dose Titration Study of Methylphenidate Hydrochloride Extended-Release Capsules (Aptensio XR) in Preschool Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2020 Mar;30(2):58-68. doi: 10.1089/cap.2019.0085. Epub 2019 Dec 3.


Objectives: To assess the efficacy and safety of a methylphenidate hydrochloride extended-release capsule (MPH-MLR) formulation in treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in preschool children. Methods: Children aged 4 to <6 years with qualifying ADHD Rating Scale Fourth Edition (ADHD-RS-IV) Preschool Version scores (≥90th percentile for age/gender) participated in four behavior management training (BMT) sessions or immediately entered (based on investigator assessment of symptom severity or previous participation) into a 6-week, open-label, flexible MPH-MLR dose optimization phase. After BMT, children with <30% improvement in ADHD-RS-IV score and ≥3 score on the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement (CGI-I) scale also entered the open-label period. All children began the open-label period with MPH-MLR 10 mg once daily; weekly adjustments permitted once-daily maximum of up to 40 mg. Children with ≥30% improvement in ADHD-RS-IV total score and a CGI-I score of 1-2 at open-label completion were randomized to their optimized dose of MPH-MLR or placebo for 2 weeks (double blind [DB]). Safety measures included adverse events (AEs), vital signs, and electrocardiograms. Results: Open-label enrollment was 119 children. Mean (SD) ADHD-RS-IV total scores at open-label start and open-label end was 40.8 (10.4) and 19.5 (11.1), respectively. Ninety children were enrolled in the DB phase. Mean (SD) ADHD-RS-IV total scores for the MPH-MLR and placebo group were similar at DB beginning and was 25.8 (14.6) and 34.9 (14.1), respectively, at DB end. Mean change from baseline in ADHD-RS-IV total score during DB was significantly greater in children randomized to placebo compared with MPH-MLR; least squares mean change difference from baseline was -11.2, p = 0.002. During open-label dosing, the most common AEs (≥10%) were decreased appetite, decreased weight, insomnia, hypertension, emotional disorder, and affect lability. Conclusion: Results demonstrate MPH-MLR efficacy in preschool children and a safety profile consistent with known AEs of methylphenidate when used for ADHD.

Keywords: ADHD; MPH-MLR; methylphenidate extended-release; preschool.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / administration & dosage*
  • Methylphenidate / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Methylphenidate