Amphetamine Chewies, Just for Kids!

By Zachary Siegel 05/25/16

The chewy, fruity amphetamine-based medication is being marketed specifically towards kids with ADHD.  

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Amphetamine Chewies, Just for Kids!

Move over Flintstones vitamins, there’s a new candy-flavored pill to chew every morning: yummy amphetamine. 

It’s called Adzenys, which kind of sounds like a brand of cereal with marshmallows, only no, it’s a chewable, fruit-flavored amphetamine tablet made for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Adzenys is an extended-release dissolvable amphetamine, the active ingredient in drugs like Adderall. It comes in six dose strengths, ranging from 3.1 mg to 18.8 mg. Adzenys was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January for patients six years and older, and has been stirring up controversy while it’s brought to market. 

CEO Vipin Garg of Neos Therapeutics, the Dallas-based company behind the drug, said they’ve been busy trying to get “ahead of back-to-school season. We’re launching now at full speed.” Pun intended?

Garg said that Neos' 125 sales reps have had “no problem” scheduling appointments with interested doctors. The rationale behind the chewable formulation came from reports of children not enjoying the act of swallowing a pill. Some doctors view it as a convenient way to give children the drugs they need, according to STAT

But reactions are mixed. ADHD is believed by many to be recklessly over-diagnosed, leaving children unnecessarily medicated, which makes the idea of a candy version of Adderall unpalatable. 

Dr. Alexander Papp, a psychiatrist affiliated with University of California, San Diego, called the chewable formula “an orally disintegrating amphetamine for kids by the morally disintegrating FDA,” he told STAT. “What’s next?” Papp lamented. “Gummy bears?”

Delivering amphetamines in a sweetened, chewy mechanism is “a recipe for people to request it and then sell it,” Dr. Mukund Gnanadesikan, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Napa, California, told STAT. “I’m not a big fan of controlled substances that come in forms that can be easily abused—and certainly a chewable drug falls into that category,” he added. 

However questionable the drug may sound, there are adults and children who benefit from stimulant medications. “There’s nothing revolutionary about this drug,” said Dr. Ben Biermann, an assistant professor of psychiatry at University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “It’s simply another delivery mechanism for a medication that already exists and has widespread use.”

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Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and drug policy. His reporting has also appeared in Slate, The Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, among others. He writes often about addiction, sometimes drawing from his own experience. You can find out more about Zachary on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.

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