Methylphenidate (By mouth)


Methylphenidate (meth-il-FEN-i-date)

Treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy. This medicine is a stimulant.

Brand Name(s)

Concerta, Metadate CD, Metadate ER, Methylin, Quillivant XR, Ritalin, Ritalin LA, Ritalin-SR

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

How to Use This Medicine

Long Acting Capsule, Liquid, Long Acting Suspension, Tablet, Chewable Tablet, Long Acting Tablet

  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Ask your pharmacist for a copy if you do not have one.
  • Chewable tablet: Drink at least 8 ounces of water or other liquid when you chew the tablet.
  • Immediate-release tablet: Take the tablet 30 to 45 minutes before meals. Take the last dose of the day before 6 PM if you have problems falling asleep.
  • Extended-release capsule: Take your medicine in the morning before breakfast. Swallow it whole with water or other liquid. If you cannot swallow the capsule whole, carefully open it and sprinkle the medicine on a tablespoonful of applesauce. Swallow this mixture right away and drink some water. Do not save the mixture for a later time.
  • Extended-release tablet: Take your medicine in the morning. Swallow it whole with water or other liquid. Do not crush, break, or chew it. Tell your doctor if you cannot swallow the tablet whole.
  • Extended-release suspension: Take the medicine in the morning. Shake the bottle well for at least 10 seconds just before you measure each dose. Use the dispenser that comes with this medicine to measure the dose.
  • If you take the extended-release tablet, part of the tablet may pass into your stools. This is normal and is nothing to worry about.
  • Missed dose: Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Throw away any mixed extended-release suspension that you do not use after 4 months.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Do not use this medicine if you have used an MAO inhibitor (MAOI) within the past 14 days.
  • Some foods and medicines can affect how methylphenidate works. Tell your doctor if you are using any of the following:
    • a blood thinner (such as warfarin)
    • antacids or stomach acid reducers
    • blood pressure medicine
    • cold or allergy medicine
    • medicine for depression (such as amitriptyline, citalopram, clomipramine, desipramine, fluoxetine, imipramine, nortriptyline, sertraline)
    • medicine to treat seizures (such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone)
  • Do not drink alcohol while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have epilepsy, eye or vision problems, heart disease, heart rhythm problems, high blood pressure, or thyroid problems. Tell your doctor if you have a history of seizures, heart attack, stroke, depression or mental illness, drug or alcohol problems, or if a family member has tried to commit suicide.
  • This medicine may cause the following problems:
    • Sudden death in people who already have heart problems
    • Heart or blood vessel problems, including heart attack and stroke
    • Changes in behavior or unusual thoughts
    • Slow growth in children
    • Painful or prolonged erection of the penis
    • Blood circulation problem in the fingers or toes, such as Raynaud phenomenon
  • This medicine can be habit-forming. Do not use more than your prescribed dose. Call your doctor if you think your medicine is not working.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy, drowsy, or have trouble seeing. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Tell any doctor or dentist who treats you that you are using this medicine. You may need to stop using this medicine several days before you have surgery or medical tests.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Chest pain that may spread to your arms, jaw, back, or neck, trouble breathing, nausea, unusual sweating
  • Erection of the penis that is painful or lasts longer than 4 hours
  • Extreme energy, mood or mental changes, confusion, agitation, restlessness, trouble sleeping, unusual thoughts or behavior
  • Fast, slow, pounding, or uneven heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, or fainting
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache, trouble seeing, blurred vision
  • Sores, coldness, numbness, or color changes on your fingers or toes

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Mild anxiety, restlessness, or nervousness
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or weight loss
  • Trouble sleeping

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 8/4/2014

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