Comparative benefits and harms of competing medications for adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A systematic review and indirect comparison meta-analysis

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Abstract

Rationale: Recommended medication prescribing hierarchies for adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) vary between different guideline committees. Few trials directly compare competing ADHD medications in adults and provide little insight for clinicians making treatment choices. Objective: The objective of this study was to assess comparative benefits and harms of competing medications for adult ADHD using indirect comparison meta-analysis. Materials and methods: Eligible studies were English-language publications of randomized controlled trials comparing ADHD drugs to placebo. Data sources were electronic bibliographic databases, Drugs@FDA, manufacturer data, and reference lists. Two reviewers independently abstracted data on design, internal validity, population, and results. Benefits and harms were compared between drug types using indirect comparison meta-regression (ratio of relative risks). Results: Twenty-two placebo-controlled trials were included (n = 2,203). Relative benefit of clinical response for shorter-acting stimulants, primarily immediate release methylphenidate, was 3.26 times greater than for patients taking longer-acting stimulants (95% CI 2.03, 5.22) and 2.24 times greater than for patients taking longer-acting forms of bupropion (95% CI 1.23, 4.08). Immediate release methylphenidate is also the only drug shown to reduce ADHD symptoms in adults with substance abuse disorders. Neither non-stimulants nor longer-acting stimulants reduced adverse effects compared to shorter-acting stimulants. Key gaps in evidence were academic, occupational, social functioning, cardiovascular toxicity, and longer-term outcomes, influences of ADHD subtype and/or comorbidities, and misuse/diversion of the drugs. Conclusions: Current best evidence supports using immediate release methylphenidate as first-line treatment for most adults with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPsychopharmacology
Volume197
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Keywords

  • Adult ADHD
  • Atomoxetine
  • Bupropion
  • Meta-analysis
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Stimulant
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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