December 18, 2013 — Methylphenidate drugs, which are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may cause prolonged and sometimes painful erections known as priapism, according to a Drug Safety Communication issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What is Priapism?
Priapism is a prolonged, unwanted, and often painful erection. Ritalin, Concerta, and other ADHD drugs are associated with ischemic priapism, which is caused by blood being unable to leave the spongy tissue inside the penis. This is the most common type of priapism, and it is also the most painful.
ADHD Drugs and Priapism in Children
This side effect is especially problematic because ADHD drugs are often prescribed to children, who are less likely to report the embarrassing side effect. Unfortunately, children who do not receive emergency medical treatment are at risk of developing permanent sexual dysfunction. According to the FDA, the median age of patients who experienced priapism was 12.5 years.
Adverse Event Reports
From 1997 through 2012, methylphenidate ADHD drugs were associated with 15 cases of priapism, including 12 cases in patients under 18 years old. Some patients were hospitalized, including two who needed surgical treatment.
The FDA recommends that patients who take methylphenidate ADHD drugs and develop erections lasting longer than four hours should seek immediate medical treatment to prevent long-term damage to the penis. Younger males, especially those who have not reached puberty, may not recognize symptoms. Healthcare professionals should warn patients and caregivers about the risk of priapism and what to do if symptoms occur.
List of Methylphenidate ADHD Drugs
Methylphenidate ADHD drugs include:
- Focalin, Focalin XR
- Metadate CD, Metadate ER
- Methylin, Methylin ER
- Quillivant XR
- Ritalin, Ritalin LA, Ritalin SR