Conditions the medication is used for: ADD/ ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADD/ ADHD

Other names for the medication: Strattera®

The medication may look like: Strattera comes in capsule form coloured depending on dose 10mg white, 18mg gold/white, 25mg blue/white, 40mg blue, 60mg blue/gold

What is this medication used for?

Atomoxetine (also known as Strattera®) is mainly used to help treat the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It is available as capsules and a liquid (4mg in 1ml).

What is the usual dose for this medication?

The usual dose of atomoxetine is around 40-80mg a day for children under 18.

How and when should I take the medication?

How to take

Swallow the capsules with at least half a glass of water whilst sitting or standing. This is to make sure that they reach the stomach and do not stick in your child’s throat.

When to take

Your child should take atomoxetine as directed on the medicine label. Taking it at mealtimes may make it easier for you or your child to remember as atomoxetine is best taken with or after food. If the label says to only take it once a day this is usually best in the morning. If the label says twice a day then this is usually best in the morning and then late afternoon or early evening. For the liquid please read the leaflet that comes with the bottle on how to use the oral syringe.

What are the alternatives to this medication?

There are some other medicine (e.g. methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine) and non-medicine treatments for ADHD. Please look at one of the “Handy charts” for more help and advice.

How long does the medication take to work?

It normally takes about 1-4 weeks to start to work for ADHD and 3 months to work fully.

How long will I need to keep taking this medication for?

Your child will usually need to keep taking atomoxetine for several years. You should review this with your child’s doctor every 12 months or so. Please look one of the “Handy charts” for more help and advice on how long he or she might need to take it for.

Can I just stop taking this medication?

It is unwise to stop it suddenly, even if your child appears better. The symptoms can return if treatment is stopped too early. This may occur some weeks or even months after atomoxetine has been stopped. When the time comes, you should withdraw atomoxetine by a gradual reduction in the dose over several weeks. Discuss this fully with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose or overdose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember unless it is within about 4-6 hours of your next dose. If you remember after this just take the next dose as normal. Do not try to catch up by taking two doses at once as you may get more side-effects. If you have problems remembering the doses (as very many people do) ask your pharmacist, doctor or nurse about this. There are some special packs, boxes and devices that can be used to help you remember.

Can I drink alcohol while on this medication?

Your child should have no problems with occasional alcoholic drinks.

Will this medication affect my other medications Including the Contraceptive pill?

Atomoxetine has a few interactions with other medicines.  

  • Other antidepressants such as imipramine, venlafaxine and mirtazapine should be used with care Decongestants that can be bought over the counter such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine (often found in cold remedies) should not be taken without consulting your pharmacist or doctor   
  • Atomoxetine may interact with salbutamol tablets (for asthma) but not usually with salbutamol inhalers Atomoxetine can increase blood pressure, so other medicines that increase blood pressure should be given with caution.
  • Your child should have no problems with "The Pill" and atomoxetine.

Not all of these interactions happen in everyone. Some of these medicines can still be used together but you will need to follow your doctor's instructions carefully. There are many other possible drug interactions.

What sort of side-effects might I get from taking this medication?

The table below will show your child some of the main side effects he or she might get from atomoxetine.

Side effect

What happens

What to do about it

COMMON (fewer than about 1 in 10 people might get these)

Anorexia

Weight loss, not feeling hungry.

If this is a problem, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Nausea and vomiting

Feeling sick and being sick. Abdominal pain

If it is bad, contact your doctor. It may be possible to adjust the dose. Taking it after food may help.

It should wear off after a few weeks.

Increased alertness

Early morning waking Irritability and mood swings

Discuss this with your doctor. He/she may be able to change the time of the dose or doses.

Insomnia

Not being able to fall asleep at night

Discuss this with your doctor. He/she may be able to change the time of the dose or doses.

Dizziness

Feeling light-headed and faint

Do not stand up too quickly. Try to get your child to lie down when he or she feels it coming on.

UNCOMMON (fewer than about 1 in 10 people might get these)

 

Constipation

When you want to poop but can't (the opposite of diarrhoea). Your child can't pass a motion.

Make sure your child eats enough fibre, cereal or fruit. Make sure your child is drinking enough fluid, keeps active and gets exercise e.g. walking. If this does not help, ask your doctor or pharmacist for a mild laxative.

Skin rashes

Red rashes on the skin, dermatitis, pruritis (itching)

You should stop atomoxetine and call your doctor or hospital immediately if your child gets swelling or hives (small raised, itchy patches of skin). Atomoxetine can cause a serious allergic reaction in rare cases.

 

Fatigue

Your child feel tired all the time. This may happen early on in treatment and should go away.

If your child feels like this for more than a week after starting atomoxetine, tell your doctor. It may be possible to adjust the dose slightly.

RARE (fewer than about 1 in 1000 people might get these)

Jaundice and hepatic damage

Pain just under the ribs, looking a bit yellow, feeling sick

Stop taking atomoxetine and contact your doctor straight away, don’t delay.

Aggression

Being aggressive, depressed, hostile and perhaps suicidal thinking.

If this occurs, discuss with your doctor as soon as possible.

 

Do not be worried by this list of side effects. Some people get no side effects at all and others may get some effects that are not listed in this table. If you think your child might have a side effect to this medicine, you should ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

 

Will I need to have blood tests?

Your child should not need a blood test while taking atomoxetine. Your child should have his or her blood pressure and pulse checked before they start atomoxetine. They should also be checked every six months and after every dose change.

Can I drive or cycle while on this medication?

Your child may feel a bit light-headed at first when taking atomoxetine. If your child cycles or is old enough to drive, until this wears off or your child knows how atomoxetine affects him or her, he or she should avoid cycling, driving or operating machinery. Atomoxetine can help your child concentrate and so may be less likely to have an accident if he or she takes the atomoxetine regularly.

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