Pemoline treatment of adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A short-term controlled trial

J. Q. Bostic, J. Biederman, T. J. Spencer, T. E. Wilens, J. B. Prince, M. C. Monuteaux, M. Sienna, D. A. Polisner, M. Hatch

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35 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the increased recognition of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adolescents, few controlled studies have assessed treatments for this age group. Adolescents issues, such as embarrassment at receiving medication at school and experimentation with abusable substances, have accelerated efforts to find effective, well-tolerated treatments beyond traditional stimulants. Pemoline has been found effective for treating both children and adults with ADHD but has not been evaluated in adolescents with ADHD. Methods: Twenty-one adolescents (mean age 14 years old) diagnosed with ADHD by structured and clinical interviews participated in a 10-week, double-blind crossover design study of pemoline. Dosing was optimized with robust doses up to 3 mg/kg/day in one to two doses. Clinical evaluations of ADHD, depression, anxiety, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptoms were assessed weekly. Results: Adolescents with ADHD exhibited a marked response to pemoline treatment relative to placebo on the ADHD rating scale (p = 0.001), with an average reduction of 3.02 points per week of treatment. Sixty percent of adolescents responded to pemoline, compared to 11% treated with placebo. This response was independent of gender or lifetime psychiatric comorbidity. Pemoline was well tolerated, with patients averaging 2.88 mg/kg/day in two doses per day, with a mean dose at end of follow-up of 181.1 mg (SD 45.6, range 112.5-262.5 mg). Side effects were mild, and no adverse hepatic events occurred. Conclusions: These findings resemble those reported in children and adults with ADHD. This trial suggests pemoline is well tolerated and effective in adolescents and may be a particularly useful ADHD treatment for adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-216
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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