New treatments for ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neuropsychiatric medical problem whose main clinical manifestations are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Many years ago, it was recognized in children, and it was popularly believed for so many years that its occurrence was confined to that age group. In late 1980s and 1990s, however, researchers demonstrated  that it has been occurring, too, among adolescents and adults—with many of them undetected for several decades [1,3].

The prevalence of ADHD among children in the U.S. is approximately 9%, and this number holds true to other countries. More often than not, it is recognized among boys; however, it is also prevalent among girls, whose abnormal condition, most of the time,   escaped medical detection. Among adults, approximately 4-5% of them worldwide have been suffering from the said medical problem but remained undetected and untreated. To date, there has been no known definitive cause of ADHD; however, research results show that in the causation [1].

So far, much still remains to be desired for the treatment of ADHD. Hence, Alcobra Ltd., an Israeli pharmaceutical firm, took the initiative to manufacture a drug intended to treat ADHD. This drug is named Metadoxine Extended Release (MDX), and it is considered as the lead and primary drug of Alcobra, specifically highlighting and emphasizing the  claim that MDX is free of the abuse potential that other treatments for ADHD have [2].

MDX has so far undergone several stages of clinical trials whose results are expected to establish the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of the drug. Recently, Alcobra announced that the results of the latest clinical trial, covering 300 adult patients, had revealed that MDX proved to provide more benefits  in treating ADHD compared to placebo treatment. The drug improved the symptoms of the disorder among patients enrolled in the treatment group [2]. It was unclear, however, if these results have actually dwarfed the findings in the placebo group. Observers opined that without firmly establishing significant differences in the results of the two groups, Alcobra is not standing on a firm ground to claim that its new drug is superior to placebo treatment.

To make matter worse, the company acknowledged at the same time that some clinical trial data which could have significantly and negatively altered the final results were excluded from the analysis, prompting a number of investors to become more skeptical about—and tainting with shade of controversy—the announcement [2].

Closely following MDX in development is a drug code named EB-1020 intended to treat adult ADHD. Being financed and pursued by Neurovance, a spin-out of Euthymics Bioscience, both located in Cambridge, MA, the drug is seen—and projected—as less addictive than other treatments being sold in the market today [4].

Presently, the top on the list treatment for ADHD is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall). Although effective, it is highly addictive; thus, it is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as controlled substance. EB-1020 aims to work on the same neurotransmitters as Adderall; however, the risk of abuse is lower because, in contrast to the well-known drug, it provides limited stimulation to the pleasure center of the brain [4].