The stimulants, amphetamine and methylphenidate, have long been the mainstay of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) therapy. They are rapidly effective and are generally the first medications selected by physicians. In the development of alternative pharmacological approaches, drug candidates have been evaluated with a wide diversity of mechanisms. All of these developments have contributed real progress in the field, but there is still much room for improvement and unmet clinical need in ADHD pharmacotherapy. The availability of a wide range of compounds with a high degree of specificity for individual monoamines (dopamine and noradrenaline) and/or different pharmacological mechanisms has refined our understanding of the essential elements for optimum pharmacological effect in managing ADHD. In this chapter, we review the pharmacology of the different classes of drug used to treat ADHD and provide a neurochemical rationale, predominantly from the use of in vivo microdialysis experiments, to explain their relative efficacy and potential to elicit side effects. In addition, we will consider how predictions based on results from animal models translate into clinical outcomes. The treatment of ADHD is also described from the perspective of the physician. Finally, the new research development for drugs to treat ADHD is discussed.
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