Concerta is used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It works by stimulating the central nervous system and affecting the chemicals and nerves in the brain which cause hyperactivity and control impulses. Concerta is used to treat patients from six years of age to 65. It is suggested that Concerta be used alongside a treatment program that includes psychological, educational and social measures. There were 7.8 million prescriptions written for Concerta in 2004 and sales for the drug (along with similar drugs) were $3.1 billion during that year.

The FDA has found a link between ADHD drugs and an increased risk of sudden death or cardiac episodes, including heart attack. FDA data suggested that these drugs may be responsible for 25 deaths between 1999 and 2003. 19 of the deaths were children, while there was also a report of 54 cardiac episodes such as heart attack, stroke, hypertension, palpitations and arrhythmia in adults and children that were being treated for ADHD.

Concerta has also been linked to serious psychiatric side effects such as suicidal thoughts, aggression, psychotic behavior and hallucinations. A warning informs patients about these risks, but it is thought that the warning may actually downplay the seriousness of these side effects.

The warning states that the drug may exacerbate existing psychiatric conditions. Data showed that in 36 reported cases of psychiatric side effects, only six of the patients had a history of psychiatric issues.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeats
  • Feeling like you might pass out
  • Fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash
  • Aggression, restlessness, hallucinations, unusual behavior, or motor tics (muscle twitches)
  • Easy bruising, purple spots on your skin
  • Dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).

Less serious Concerta side effects may include:

  • Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
  • Vision problems, dizziness, mild headache
  • Sweating, mild skin rash
  • Numbness, tingling, or cold feeling in your hands or feet
  • Nervous feeling, sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Weight loss
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