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ADHD Medications Tied to Prolonged Erections

Update Date: Dec 17, 2013 02:59 PM EST

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that some popular medications prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might have a very nasty side effect. According to the agency, ADHD medications can cause long-lasting and painful erections.

The agency reported that ADHD medications that contain methylphenidate, which can be found in Ritalin and Concerta can cause priapism. On top of that, the drug, Strattera, also known as atomoxetine has also been linked to priapism. Priapism is a condition in which blood gets trapped in the penis causing prolonged erections. This condition can occur in males of all ages and could lead to lasting damage if medical care is delayed.

The FDA came across this new side effect after reviewing the medications. The agency reported that the average age of the patients who suffered priapism due to methylphenidate was 12. However, the patients' ages ranged from eight and 33. The researchers found that the side effect occurred when the dosage was increased or when the drug was delayed. In some cases, priapism occurred after the patient stopped taking the drug either permanently or temporarily. Overall, one patient needed a shunt and another received needle aspiration to remove the excess blood. The researchers noted that priapism appeared to be more common in people taking Strattera.

"There have been very few case reports on this adverse effect in association with drugs to treat ADHD," said one expert, Victoria Richards, an associate professor of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University in North Haven, CT according to HealthDay. "Although the effect is rare, the warning will at least draw attention to the potentially dangerous connection, not only in light of improved recognition and diagnosing of ADHD, but also in the misuse/abuse of those stimulant drugs."

The agency listed drugs that could cause priapism, which were DAytrana, Focalin/Focalin XR, Metadate CD/Metadate ER, Methylin/Methylin ER, Quillivant XR, Ritalin LA/Ritalin SR. The FDA stressed the importance of open communication between doctors and patients since some young children might be too embarrassed to speak up.

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