Questions are sometimes raised about exceeding the maximum recommended doses of medications used to treat ADHD. I have reviewed the research studies for these medications and it is clear that the studies were to determine efficacy and were not dosing studies.  Specific doses were chosen to assess the benefit and minimize risk of side-effects.  Once efficacy was determined the study ended and there was no motivation to do further studies addressing the range of doses that were therapeutic. Thus, doses involved in efficacy studies can be mistakenly seen as being studies to determine limits of what is therapeutic. The studies could not recommend a different dose because they did not assess different [higher] doses.  Also, each person is unique and this uniqueness can include how they respond to medications with some people responding to higher doses and others to lower doses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognizes this when they state “the dosing regimen [for stimulant and related medications] is adjusted according to a patient’s individual response to pharmacotherapy."

I believe that it is important to work with my patients to assess their response to medications and in collaboration with them determine an optimal dose. At times this dose may be higher than is “recommended.”  I hope that it is clearer now why this is the case and why it is necessary to prescribe higher doses for these patients.


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