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Back to Drug index

Back to CNS stimulants

Name: Methylphenidate hydrochloride

Pregnancy Category C
C-II controlled substance

Drug classes

  • CNS stimulant

Therapeutic actions

Mild cortical stimulant with CNS actions similar to those of the amphetamines; efficacy in hyperkinetic syndrome, attention-deficit disorders in children appears paradoxical and is not understood.


  • Narcolepsy
  • Attention-deficit disorders, hyperkinetic syndrome, minimal brain dysfunction in children with a behavioral syndrome characterized by the following symptoms: moderate to severe distractibility, short attention span, hyperactivity, emotional lability and impulsivity, not secondary to environmental factors or psychiatric disorders
  • Unlabeled use: treatment of depression in the elderly, cancer and stroke patients


Contraindicated in the presence of hypersensitivity to methylphenidate; marked anxiety, tension, and agitation; glaucoma; motor tics, family history or diagnosis of Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome; severe depression of endogenous or exogenous origin; normal fatigue states.

Use caution in the presence of seizure disorders; hypertension; drug dependence, alcoholism; emotional instability; lactation.

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Adverse effects

  • CNS: Nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, headache, dyskinesia, chorea, drowsiness, Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome, toxic psychosis, blurred vision, accommodation difficulties
  • GI: Anorexia, nausea, abdominal pain, weight loss
  • CV: Increased or decreased pulse and blood pressure; tachycardia, angina, cardiac arrhythmias, palpitations
  • Hematologic: Leukopenia, anemia
  • Dermatologic: Skin rash, urticaria, fever, arthralgia, exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme with necrotizing vasculitis and thrombocytopenic purpura, loss of scalp hair
  • Other: Tolerance, psychological dependence, abnormal behavior with abuse

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