In the previous post, we introduced the relatively new ADHD medication Daytrana. Composed of the same chemical compound as Ritalin and Concerta (methylphenidate), Daytrana offers the distinct advantage of existing in the patch form, which is typically worn on the hip. At the present moment, this medication is used exclusively for children with ADHD and related disorders, although it can also be used off-label for adults with the disorder.
Given the entirely different delivery system of the patch form of Daytrana vs. the conventional pill form of Ritalin and Concerta, the question arises on how the rates and patterns of drug delivery compare between the two forms of the medication. A copy of a table from the previous post, titled Daytrana Dosing Equivalents to Ritalin and Concerta is given below:
Patch size refers to the size of the Daytrana patch worn by the individual. The total content of drug per Daytrana patch (in milligrams methylphenidate) and rate of delivery (per hour) of the different patch sizes are also listed above. The standard wear-time for the patch is 9 hours, so a comparison in total drug dosage for a 9-hour period is also listed. Finally, equivalents to Ritalin (Immediate release, abbreviated "MPH-IR", the dosage listed is given 3 times per day, in milligrams), as well as Concerta (given once per day, also in milligrams) are also listed.
As far as total methylphenidate content delivered, the three methods of comparison are all similar. However there are some differences in rates of delivery, drug absorption patterns, and drug metabolism between the three different methods. A comparison, based on a report from Pierce and coworkers on the pharmacokinetics of the methylphenidate transdermal system (a technical term for Daytrana) is highlighted below. Please note that some of the data are supplemented from other similar studies on children with ADHD, so don't take these numbers as absolute. There is still a large amount of variation between the different studies. Nevertheless, these values are, to the best of this blogger's knowledge and current research, a good representation of values typically found in the literature (sometimes numerical ranges are given in lieu of exact numbers to reflect this). In other words, look at the numbers for comparative purposes instead of absolute values. The important thing to note below are some of the trends and comparative differences between the different forms of methylphenidate.
About the table above:
The columns going across include Immediate Release methylphenidate ("MPH-IR", similar to short-acting Ritalin and the like), Osmotically released methylphenidate (MPH-OROS, which is the drug form used by Concerta) and the four different patch sizes of Daytrana currently available ("DT" 10, 15, 20 and 30, which reflect the amount of methylphenidate delivered in milligrams to the body over the standard 9 hour patch-wear time of the 4 different patch sizes, listed in our first table).
For the first column, Max Concentration reflects the highest concentrations of the drug methylphenidate which are typically seen (again, don't scrutinize the exact numbers too closely, just look for trends across the chart). The next entry, Time to Reach Cmax, reflects the approximate amount of time after first taking the methylphenidate capsule or putting on the Daytrana patch for this maximal concentration to occur (in hours, again, an approximation).
Effectiveness is a more relative term, but it is based on how long the desired effects typically last (in hours) of each drug formulation. Again, experts and studies disagree, so just use these as relative guidelines. Finally, the term half-life is used as a measuring tool for how fast the drug is eliminated or cleared from the body. For example, a drug with a half life of 3 hours means that every three hours, the amount of drug remaining in the system is cut in half (used in a similar matter to how radioactive decay is measured).
4 important trends to note from the table:
For convenience, the same table is listed again below.
- Higher drug concentrations from the patch form: Note that much higher plasma concentrations are typically seen with the Daytrana patch form of the drug than the other delivery system. This is likely due to the route of administration which bypasses several enzymes and other metabolic factors in the digestive system reserved for oral delivery routes. As a result, higher plasma concentrations can more easily occur. This is especially apparent in the two largest Daytrana patch sizes, where maximum plasma concentrations are close to double the levels attained via the traditional oral delivery methylphenidate medications for ADHD.
- Greater time to reach high concentrations: The time to reach these high concentrations is greater as well. This is often an advantage, given the fact that stimulant medications which exhibit the greatest abuse potential typically enter the bloodstream (and, subsequently the brain), extremely quickly (often in 15 minutes or less), and then leave the brain and body quickly. As a result, while this more drawn out process (relatively similar to that of Concerta, but slightly longer), is good news for lower abuse potentials. However, the relatively long time to reach maximum concentration can be difficult for seeing the desired effects shortly after medication. However, given the higher apparent "ceiling" for these patch-style delivery systems, adequate drug concentrations are typically seen within 2 hours (data not shown). In other words, medication effects can be felt long before these high maximal concentrations occur.
- Longer duration of effectiveness: The pharmacokinetics study of the methylphenidate patch for ADHD noted that detectable levels of the drug, when given in the patch form, were still seen in the blood the next day, up to 15 hours after the patch was removed (although only around 5% of the maximum concentration). Nevertheless, this 9-hour patch delivery method may prove useful in maintaining a constant presence of the medication throughout the day, and may extend the drug's effectiveness beyond even some of the longest-lasting oral methylphenidate forms. This may prove useful for individuals who still need to control for lack of focus and hyperactivity, such as a child with a big homework project. Of course, the flipside to this could be a greater potential for long term side effects, due to the constant persistence of the drug (keep in mind that this Daytrana system is only 2-3 years old, so long-term evaluations are still not available to any sufficient extent).
- Similar rates of clearance: Perhaps the most consistent parameter across the board, it appears that the clearance rates of the patch and oral systems of methylphenidate all seem to hover around the three hour mark. This suggests that once the drug is actually delivered (albeit by a different delivery system), the rest of the metabolic processes are pretty much the same for the different forms of methylphenidate.
The enantiomer effect of Daytrana:
Before going, I just wanted to mention another peculiarity of the transdermal (patch-based) form of the methylphenidate delivery system:
Most methylphenidate medications are actually a mixture of two compounds of the same formula that exist as mirror images of each other. These mirror images are called enantiomers. While they have the same chemical formula and structure, the two different mirror image forms of the drug can behave entirely differently. In some extreme cases, getting the wrong enantiomer or mirror image of a drug can even produce disastrous side effects. For example, for the drug thalidominde, which was prescribed for morning sickness in pregnant mothers was actually found to have one safe enantiomer, but the other enantiomer, or mirror image resulted in severe birth defects. As we can see, this one minor change in drug shape can have huge repercussions if we're not careful.
In the case of methylphenidate, however, the effects of the differnt mirror images of the drug are much less pronounced. However, one of the two enantiomers (called the "d form") of the drug is much more potent or active than the other form. As a result, new formulations containing only the more "active" form of the drug began to develop. The drug Focalin (dexmethylphenidate) is an example of this. It has been demonstrated that Focalin can produce similar effects to regular methylphenidate at half of the methylphenidate dosage. We will save further discussion on this topic for later posts.
The reason I mention this enantiomer effect is that the two mirror images of the methylphenidate are metabolized and cleared at different rates. What is interesting is that the actual form of delivery for the drug (i.e. the patch for Daytrana, or the oral form for Ritalin or Concerta) actually affects the ratio or balance of the two mirror images of the drug after short periods of time.
To illustrate, consider the following:
- For Methylphenidate Immediate Release (Ritalin-IR), the "L" form (the less active form) is almost non-existent shortly after dosage is administered. That is, the "D" form (the more active form, or the mirror image which exists exclusively for Focalin), is the overwhelmingly predominant form of the drug remaining within a period of 1-2 hours.
- For Concerta (a slower releasing form of the drug compared to the immediate release Ritalin form of methylphenidate), the ratio is still skewed shortly after administration of the drug, with the "D" form: "L" form exhibiting a ratio of around 40:1 (after a few hours). Once again, the more potent form of the drug predominates shortly after the drug is given, and the less active form is more quickly cleared.
- However, with Daytrana, the "D" to "L" mirror image ratio of the drug is still in favor, but not by nearly the amount of the two oral delivery forms (Ritalin and Concerta). In the case of Daytrana, the "L" form stays around longer, sitting at about 55-60% of the more active "D" form of the drug. It is still unclear at the moment as to why this is, but some possibilities include the difference in enzymes and enzyme systems used to break down the drug between the skin and the digestive forms of delivery. Nevertheless, this blogger would not be surprised to see another patch form of delivery comprised exclusively of the more potent "D" form of the drug (as in a patch form of Focalin) on the horizon as an even more effective treatment for ADHD.
We will continue our discussion about some of the other pluses and minuses of the Daytrana form of methylphenidate and how they relate to strategies of ADHD treatment in the next few posts.