Strattera is a prescription used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and works by affecting the chemicals in the brain that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It is the first and only non-stimulant medication approved by the FDA and is classified as a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Eli Lilly and Co. produces Strattera and the FDA approved the drug in 2002. It soon became one of the most popular ADHD medications on the market, with sales exceeding $390 million in 2003.
In 2005, the FDA required that Strattera’s manufacturer add a warning label to inform users about the increased risk of suicidal thinking in children and teenagers. In one study researchers looked at 1,357 patients taking Strattera while 851 took a placebo. While none of the placebo-class had thoughts of suicide, five of the Strattera-class experienced suicidal ideation, with one actual attempt. Another report made public in 2006 made reference to 20 patients taking Strattera who committed suicide, while 63 other patients made a suicide attempt.
Strattera has also been linked to serious liver side effects that could be extremely dangerous. Jaundice and liver damage or failure has been seen in some patients after using the popular medication. A black box warning was added about liver side effects in 2004.
Serious side effects may include:
- Chest pain, shortness of breath, fast or uneven heartbeats
- Feeling like you might pass out
- Unusual thoughts or behavior, aggression, hallucinations (seeing things that are not there)
- Nausea, pain in your upper stomach, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Increased blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, seizure)
- Urinating less than usual or not at all
- Numbness, burning pain, or tingly feeling
Less serious Strattera side effects may include:
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling dizzy or drowsy
- Cough, dry mouth
- Skin rash or itching
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Increased menstrual cramps
- Impotence, loss of interest in sex, or trouble having an orgasm