Also Known As: Atomoxetine, Tomoxetin, Strattera, Attentin
Atomoxetine is a drug approved for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor or NRI, not to be confused with selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), both of which are currently the most prescribed form of antidepressants. This compound is manufactured, marketed and sold in the United States under the brand name Strattera by Eli Lilly and Company as a hydrochloride salt (atomoxetine HCl), the original patent filing company, and current U.S. patent owner. Generics of atomoxetine are sold in all other countries; they are manufactured by Torrent Pharmaceuticals using the label Tomoxetin, Ranbaxy Laboratories (through its Division: Solus) using the label Attentin, Sun Pharmaceuticals (through its Division: Milmet Pharmaceuticals), and Intas Biopharmaceuticals. There is currently no generic manufactured directly in the United States since it is under patent until 2017.
Classified as a norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitor, atomoxetine is approved for use in children, adolescents, and adults. However, its efficacy has not been studied in children under six years old. Its advantage over stimulants for the treatment of ADHD is that it has less abuse potential than stimulants, is not scheduled as a controlled substance, and has shown in clinical trials to offer 24-hour coverage of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults and children.
Initial therapeutic effects of atomoxetine may take at least a week to be felt. Atomoxetine should be taken for 6–8 weeks before deciding whether it is effective or not. Many people respond to atomoxetine who don't respond to stimulants (for ADHD). Atomoxetine may be preferred over amphetamine-based stimulants in patients with psychiatric disorders, those who cannot tolerate stimulants, and those with a substance misuse recurring history. Therapy is usually initiated by gradually increasing the dose to minimize typically minor side effects. As well, some individuals are sensitive to lower doses. If the individual is on stimulants, a gradual titration down of the stimulant dose may be prescribed to minimize side effects.
Strattera was originally intended to be a new antidepressant drug; however, in clinical trials, no such benefits could be proven. Since norepinephrine is believed to play a role in ADHD, Strattera was tested – and subsequently approved – as an ADHD treatment.
Atomoxetine, which inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine, was originally explored by Eli Lilly as a treatment for depression, but did not show a favorable benefit-to-risk ratio in trials. Failed clinical trials are not submitted to drug regulatory agencies and are considered trade secrets. Subsequently, Lilly then chose to pursue an ADHD treatment route for atomoxetine. Many patients have seen a pronounced anti-depressive effect in conjunction with other antidepressants. More study is needed to understand the full pharmacodynamics.
A small (40 people), 10-week, double-blind clinical trial was reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry on the effectiveness of atomoxetine for treating binge eating disorder. The results of the trial was that atomoxetine was "associated with a significantly greater rate of reduction in binge-eating episode frequency, weight, [and] body mass index." The average daily dose given was 106 mg/day. The authors concluded that atomoxetine is effective for short term treatment of binge eating disorder.
A preliminary 12-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted at Duke University Medical Center which studied the effectiveness of atomoxetine on adult obese women. The study included 30 obese women with an average body mass index of 36.1. Fifteen women were given atomoxetine therapy starting at 25 mg/day with a gradual increase to 100 mg/day over 1 week. Fifteen women were given a placebo with identical dosing. By the end of the trial, the atomoxetine group lost an average of 3.6 kg (3.7% of their body mass) vs a 0.1 kg gain in the placebo group (0.2% gain). Three participants in the atomoxetine group and none in the placebo group lost greater than 5% of their mass.