There has been a recent increase of the use of atypical antipsychotics as a treatment option for ADHD. An article published in September 2012 recently looked at a number of these atypical treatments to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of these methods. The drugs were compared to a placebo in the experiment. The test subjects consisted of youth and children 18 years of age and younger that have previously been diagnosed with ADHD.   8 trials were performed in total between the years of 2000 and 2008.

Caution in drawing a definite conclusion is required for the following reasons:

  1. Some of the studies produced inadequate, non-conclusive results.
  2. The evidence is affected by the heterogeneous population used for the studies. Other factors may have contributed to the results.
  3. There were methodological issues in some studies, such as use of enriched designs and risk of selection bias.
  4. No study addressed the issue of pre-existing/concurrent psychosocial interventions, and comorbid stimulant medication and its dosage was only partially addressed.
  5. No child under 5 was tested on

A majority of the trials revolved around a drug known as risperidone. It is usually found in the form of a tablet.  Risperidone is traditionally used in the cases of schizophrenia or episodes of mania due to bipolar disorder. The drug changes the activity of certain natural substances found in the brain.

Risperidone has a structure of 2-methyl-3-vinyl-6,7,8,9-tetrahydropyrido[1,2-a]pyrimidin-4-one as can be seen in this stick structure. Each line is a bond and if an element is not labeled, it assumed to be carbon. It is also assumed that the appropriate number of hydrogen to fulfill the octet rule is attached to these carbons.

There was some limited evidence that ripseridone has a short-term effect in reducing the aggression of ADHD children. On the ABC irritability subscale (ranging from 0-49), there was a difference in scores of 6.49 points. This may be clinically significant. On the Nisonger Child Behaviour Rating Form – Conduct Problem subscale (ranging from 0-48), there was an 8.61 point score difference. One study suggests that these results last to some extent for up to 6 months.

Quetiapine furmate was also tested in this study. This drug, like ripseridone, is a psychoactive organic compound most commonly used to treat  schizophrenia. It is also commonly found in oral pill form.

Quetiapine-furmate, or 2-[2-(4-dibenzo[b,f][1,4]thiazepin-11-yl-1-piperazinyl)ethoxy]ethanol hemifumarate, has a molecular formula of 2(C21H25N3O2S).C4H4O4. .  This image also shows a stick figure representation of the drug. The same rules apply to this structure

No significant evidence was found suggesting that quetiapine furmate works effectively to treat disruptive behavioral disorders in children.

Further research needs to be done on the topic to confirm or deny the effectiveness of anti-psychotic drugs as an alternative treatment for ADHD. Although it is being currently prescribed, success may only be a result of placebo. It seems that risperidone, however, does have an actual significant effect to treat ADHD.

Author: Maggie Martinez

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