By in Health & Fitness

Generic Concerta? Why It May Not Be Your Best Choice

Concerta is a medication taken for relief of ADHD symptoms. It contains the same active ingredient as Ritalin: methylphenidate or MPH. You may sometimes find Concerta listed as OROS MPH, and this is because it uses a special patented delivery system. OROS is Osmotic Release Oral Systems; it was created by a company named Alza.

Why should you care about these details? Well, if you or your child have been prescribed Concerta you might want to check if you're getting the real deal. A generic is available, and many public and private insurance plans will automatically require your pharmacist to dispense the generic substitute because of its lower price tag.

The problem is, it doesn't work the same.

I was skeptical when my pediatrician told me this, because many generics work just as well as the original patent medications they replace. But with Concerta things are different because of the delivery system. You see, it's not the usual time release tablet. It is a semi-permeable capsule packed with medication, and then coated with more of the drug. That's a fancy way of saying this pill is a capsule and not a tablet. That special patented delivery system? It uses water to push measured doses of the drug out of the capsule throughout the day. So it's more precise than the pills that just dissolve slowly in your body.

Let me see if I can explain for you how it works:

When the drug is taken in the morning, the outer coating supplies an initial dose within the first one to two hours. This leaves the inner capsule exposed, and allows water to be absorbed by it at a controlled rate. As the water enters the capsule it pushes out more drug, through a precision laser-drilled hole at the end of the pill. Three inner sections supply very specific doses of methylphenidate throughout the day, keeping the dose as close to ideal as possible. It's really quite fascinating, if you're a bit of a science geek!

While other long-acting forms of MPH are available on the market, only Concerta uses the OROS delivery system. This means only Concerta works like Concerta.

If your doctor is basing decisions on the performance of Concerta, taking a drug with a different delivery system means you may have to spend more time tweaking dosage and timing of pills before you get the full benefit of the drug.

How will you know if you have the real deal? Look for the “ alza ” mark on the side of the pill. It will be followed by a number (18, 36, 54, etc.) that indicates the strength of the pill. If you are taking Concerta 18 mg, the usual starting dose, your pills should read “ alza 18 .” The pills in my picture are 54 mg Concerta, so they are marked, “ alza 54 .”

If you are concerned that your pharmacist will make a substitution without informing you, ask your doctor what can be done. Some doctors will write a no substitutions order on the prescription. Others may be able to help you get a subsidy that pays the difference between the generic and Concerta. In British Columbia, there is also government assistance for low income families. Some people are able to get Concerta at no cost at all.

So if the doctor prescribes Concerta, there are a lot of ways to be sure what you're getting is the real drug and not a knock-off that works differently. If you can't afford this drug but need it, ask for help.

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Image credit: Concerta 54mg capsules, copyright Kyla Matton Osborne

The photo may be reproduced for public education, provided creator is credited and this article is linked. Please do not copy the article itself.


3 Phase Tablet ,” YouTube

Concerta ,” RxList (WebMD)

New Generic Medication ,” Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC)

Disclaimer: The author is not a health professional. The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended to replace competent medical advice.

Disclosure: The author has no connection with any company or brand mentioned herein, and has not been compensated for said mentions.

Note: This content has been migrated from Bubblews, where it was originally published

Image Credit » Kyla Matton Osborne

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MegL wrote on October 24, 2014, 2:15 PM

That's a very interesting post. Never heard of this before.

Isabella wrote on October 24, 2014, 3:30 PM

This is very important information, we always have to be on top of important things like this ourselves. You would think the system is looking out for you, that's why we need to have each other's back. Very educational and informative...

Feisty56 wrote on October 24, 2014, 6:58 PM

This example is precisely when a generic medication is NOT a generic equivalent. I wonder how many health care providers are astute enough to know this very big difference? Thanks for pointing it out so more people who need to know can be proactive about the situation.

Ellis wrote on October 24, 2014, 8:28 PM

Interesting...I wonder how many other drugs fall into this category..

BarbRad wrote on October 26, 2014, 11:04 PM

Fortunately I don't have anyone I'm responsible for taking this, but I can see why it would be valuable to parents to know this information.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 29, 2014, 2:24 AM

Concerta is the same medicine that's in Ritalin, which everyone seems to know. It's the OROS delivery system that makes it Concerta :)