The company that makes gazillions off its Adderall patent has a message to patients: stop taking Adderall.
But Shire Pharmaceuticals Group PLC's desire has nothing to do with health concerns chronicled in today's feature, "Who's Your Addy?" It revolves around money. The Basingstoke, England, company's patent expires in 2009, at which time the formula will become available as a less-costly generic drug and Shire's Adderall fortunes will plummet. So Shire in February 2007 paid $2.6 billion to acquire New River Pharmaceuticals and the rights to its ADHD drug, lisdexamfetamine, which now sells under the brand name Vyvanse.
Ty Pennington, the host of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, is currently touring the country promoting Vyvanse on Shire's dime. An admitted ADHD sufferer, Pennington says his focus has improved since switching to the drug in May. "I don't know about everybody else but it works for me," he told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
Shire sales reps have descended on doctor offices to minimize Adderall and push Vyvanse with free 30-day samples for distribution to ADHD patients. Physicians are told Vyvanse has been specially formulated to prevent substance abuse and provide longer lasting effects for ADHD sufferers without adverse Adderall side effects such as teeth grinding, sleeplessness and dramatic weight loss.
But Myomancy.com, a website that monitors ADHD, dyslexia and autism treatments, claims that 10 percent of users taking Vyvanse in company trials stopped due to side effects, much higher than the 2.4 percent of participants who quit during similar Adderall trials.
Some who shared their free trial experiences on the CafePharma.com online forum last year hailed Vyvanse for doing just what Shire promised. One man even called it "hands down the best" ADHD medication he's been on. Plenty of others described Vyvanse nightmares, however.
The mother of a 9-year-old says her boy collapsed, experienced heavy legs and could not move after taking his first, normal dosage of Vyvanse. Another mother says her child heard voices and lashed out violently. A man who switched to Vyvanse at his doctor's urging developed a habit of pulling hair strands out of his head, one at a time. A bipolar young woman says she "kept seeing shit flying around my room." Dizziness, depression, dehydration, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, uncontrollable facial tics, extreme muscle spasms uncontrolled crying and chronic bowel trouble were also reported by disappointed users.
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Drug abusers joining the forum discussion countered Shire's claims that one cannot get high off Vyvanse. Taking large doses in one sitting does not get you high, they agree. The trick is to maintain a normal daily dose prescribed to treat ADHD but hours later take more medication.
A 20-year-old followed this ritual with 70mg pills and "a bong rip." He issued this warning: "DO NOT consume cocaine while on this drug. That will hurt for awhile."
Hours after his daily dose for ADHD, an 18-year-old crushed three more 50mg pills and snorted them. "The effects are highly comparable to that of crack, meth and shrooms," he said. "I caution parents to watch their children's prescription."
He exhausted his free 30-day supply in four days.