December 18, 2013 — Ritalin, Concerta, and other medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can potentially cause long-lasting erections called priapism, according to a Safety Alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
An FDA review of adverse event reports found that the risk of priapism is highest in children (median age 12.5 years), who are less likely to recognize symptoms or report the embarrassing side effect. Unfortunately, without treatment, priapism can cause permanent damage to the penis.
ADHD drugs are associated with ischemic priapism, which is a type of long-lasting erection that occurs when blood is trapped inside the penis. It is the most common type of priapism and also the most painful. From 1997-2012, the FDA identified 15 cases of priapism, including 12 in patients under 18 years old. Several patients were hospitalized and two required surgery.
Methylphenidate ADHD medications include:
- Focalin, Focalin XR
- Metadate CD, Metadate ER
- Methylin, Methylin ER
- Quillivant XR
- Ritalin, Ritalin LA, Ritalin SR
The FDA is recommending that doctors who prescribe these ADHD drugs should notify patients and/or caregivers to seek emergency medical attention for an erection lasting longer than four hours.