Ritalin LA (methylphenidate) is a prescription medication that is primarily used in children with ADHD. Unfortunately, it can have serious side effects in children — seizures, growth problems, priapism, sexual dysfunction, heart problems, and more.
What is Ritalin LA?
Ritalin LA (“long-acting”) is a prescription medication for ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) that was developed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and approved by the FDA in June 2002. It is a reformulation of Ritalin SR (“short-release”). Each capsule of Ritalin LA contains methylphenidate — 50% short-release beads, and 50% long-acting beads. It is designed to control symptoms of ADHD for 6-8 hours, which covers the school day.
FDA Safety Warning for Ritalin LA and Priapism
December 17, 2013 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a Drug Safety Communication about the rare risk of priapism from methylphenidate ADHD medications, including Ritalin LA. From 1997-2012, the FDA received 15 reports of priapism in association with methylphenidate, in patients aged 8 to 33 years old. Some patients were hospitalized, and two needed surgery.
The FDA required Novartis to add the following warning to the Prescribing Information for Ritalin LA:
“Prolonged and painful erections, sometimes requiring surgical intervention, have been reported with methylphenidate products in both pediatric and adult patients. Priapism was not reported with drug initiation but developed after some time on the drug, often subsequent to an increase in dose.”
What is Priapism?
Priapism is an erection of the penis lasting 4 hours or more. Ritalin LA is associated with ischemic priapism, in which blood is trapped inside the penis, causing severe pain and swelling.
Priapism can occur in males of any age, but the risk is very serious in boys and teenagers. They may not recognize symptoms or tell an adult out of embarrassment, which may delay treatment until severe tissue damage has occurred. Unfortunately, this significantly increases the risk of permanent erectile dysfunction (impotence).
Ritalin LA Side Effects
Cardiovascular risks of Ritalin LA:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart rhythm is fast, uneven, or pounding
- Cardiac arrhythmia or palpitations
- Heart attack
- Sudden cardiac death
Serious side effects of Ritalin LA:
- Slow growth (height and weight) in children
- Eyesight changes or blurred vision
- Priapism (prolonged and painful erections)
- Mental (psychiatric problems)
- New or worse aggression, hostility, bipolar illness, manic symptoms, etc.
- Circulation problems in fingers and toes
Common side effects of Ritalin LA:
- Stomach ache
- Decreased appetite
- Trouble sleeping