What do I need to know about guanfacine?
Guanfacine belongs to a class of medications known as central alpha-2A-adrenergic agonists. This class of medication opens your blood vessels and lowers your heart rate. Researchers found that guanfacine could improve the function of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls attention and impulse control. Doctors may prescribe it as a treatment for ADHD.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a version of guanfacine that is extended-release to treat ADHD in children and teenagers aged 6–17 years. Adults can be prescribed off-label.
Guanfacine is a key ingredient in guanfacine.
- People with high blood pressure are more likely to be prescribed this medication to treat their hypertension and to prevent other serious conditions like heart attacks or strokes.
- Previously, it was sold under the brand name Tenex in the United States. It is still available today as generic guanfacine instant release (IR). Under the brand name Intuniv, it is used to treat ADHD. The generic version of Intuniv and the brand-name product both contain guanfacine. However, the recommended dosage is different.
- Guanfacine should only be considered when stimulant medications like amphetamine-dextroamphetamine (Adderall) do not meet all three criteria of suitableness: tolerability and effectiveness. This medication is most effective for children aged 12 or younger.
Guanfacine for ADHD: When can it be used?
Some people with ADHD may not benefit from stimulant medication. If:
- The person is between the ages of 6 and 17.
- Stimulants don’t work well for managing ADHD symptoms.
- Stimulants have too many side effects.
- Substance Abuse Disorder in Children or Adolescents
- If the child or adolescent is suffering from a medical condition, stimulants are not recommended.
In such cases, nonstimulant medications like guanfacine can be an option.
Intuniv, an extended-release formulation (ER) of guanfacine, may be used in conjunction with stimulants or as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes psychotherapy and educational measures.
The most effective treatment approaches are those that combine medication and behavioural therapy. The recommendations can vary depending on the age of the patient. Research from TrustedSource suggests that guanfacine ER could be just as effective for treating ADHD in adults.
Does guanfacine help with ADHD?
Intuniv’s effectiveness is based on clinical trials conducted in children and teenagers. Intuniv decreased scores on the ADHD rating scale IV in these studies by an average of 15 to 23 points, compared to 10 to 18 for people taking placebo. The scale also includes scores for hyperactive and impulsive tendencies.
Guanfacine is present in both guanfacine-IR and guanfacine-ER, but the release of guanfacine into the body differs due to the differences in their formulation. There is less evidence to support guanfacine-IR for the treatment of ADHD. Intuniv users who were taking Intuniv had a significantly lower rate of treatment discontinuation compared to those using guanfacine IR, formerly Tenex. Some doctors prescribe guanfacine for ADHD. Off-label use is what we call it.
Guanfacine Off-Label Use
Off-label drug use is when a drug FDA-approved for a certain purpose is used in a way that was not approved. The doctor may still use the drug to treat the patient for an unapproved purpose. The FDA regulates the testing and approval of drugs, but not the way doctors treat patients. Your doctor is free to prescribe the drug they feel best suits your needs.
You should not hesitate to ask your doctor any questions if he prescribes an off-label drug. You have the right to be involved in decisions regarding your health. You can ask questions such as:
- Why did you prescribe this drug for off-label usage?
- What other drugs are available to do the same?
- Does my health insurance cover off-label medication use?
- What side effects could I have from taking this drug?
How much guanfacine should I take for ADHD?
Guanfacine or Intuniv can be taken by mouth as a tablet. It is not recommended to crush, chew, or break the tablets before swallowing. Intuniv can be administered to your child at a dose of 1 milligramme (mg) once per day. Doctors will usually start with the lowest, most effective dosage, considering various criteria.
Guanfacine is typically taken between 0.5mg and 1mg, one to four times per day. You should speak to your child’s physician if you wish to discontinue the medication. may need to be tapered off slowly to prevent a blood pressure increase. The dose can be gradually increased over the next four to seven weeks based on your child’s weight and age. During this period, your child will be closely monitored for side effects.
The maximum dose is between 5 mg and 7 mg per day, depending on the weight and age of the child. You should know that Intuniv and guanfacine IR cannot be interchanged on a mg-for-mg basis. Both drugs contain guanfacine, but the way they are formulated is different.
Intuniv, for example, is an extended-release medication that releases slowly over time. Guanfacine IR, an immediate-release medication, releases the medication directly into the body. Before treatment begins and at regular intervals during treatment, your child’s blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored.
What is guanfacine?
Guanfacine is not without risk. First, there are potential side effects, and second, there are drug interactions.