Vyvanse is a new treatment for ADHD that is very promising. Importantly, it has several advantages that distinguish it from the many competing treatments. At Health and Life, we are skeptical by nature, but there are advantages to Vyvanse that make it stand out.
In our analysis, Vyvanse tends to provide consistent and effective treatment for ADHD, possibly outperforming the competition. On almost every way to analyze the effectiveness of an ADHD medication, it seems to have advantages. Here’s why we think so.
There are many advantages of Vyvanse with few disadvantages.
It is long release. It has drug release characteristics that are very helpful to people with ADHD and outperform competing formulations on multiple dimensions. There are studies which show it works well for at least a year. It is hard to abuse. It typically has some effect for 14 hours. It is made only of d-amphetamine. And it is pretty effective.
Because it is just d-amphetamine, some may not respond as strongly to it as to Adderall. It is expensive as there is no generic.
Let’s go through each point.
Vyvanse is a long release form of d-amphetamine.
Clinicians tend to report superior results from long release medications over short. These experiences are supported by data which show that long release treatments tend to perform superior to instant release in ADHD. A pill that lasts 10-12 hours or longer with smooth release and consistent drug behavior tends to provide better stability than multiple instant release pills over that same time frame.
It’s a lot easier to do as well which improves adherence and makes life easier for the person taking the medication.
The drug release of Vyvanse seems to have significant advantages over existing therapies, particularly certain forms of competing amphetamine extended release forms. People who take Vyvanse have very even and consistent drug release with little variability. If you take it, you’ll soon know how it works and be able to expect it to do so. For someone who has ADHD, this certainty can mean that they will, possibly for the first time in their life, have consistent performance.
The reason for its superior performance is likely due to the design of its drug release.
Vyvanse is made of an inactive form of d-amphetamine linked to lysine and has to be digested by the body to take effect.
The conversion of inactive Vyvanse to its active form kicks in quickly after being taken and is typically finished within an hour of taking. Because 90% of the conversion tends to take place in the blood, this means that it is highly unlikely that the acidity of your stomach will affect the drug release. This is not the case with many other competing treatments.
Vyvanse reaches peak levels at about 3 and a half hours after taking and, at around 9 and a half hours, is about half gone from your body. It is still present at some degree of action in general for 12-14 hours, although the level may be low enough that someone taking it might not realize that is the case.
Fasting has a modest effect on its release.
Some aspects of Vyvanse’s release pattern are 3.5 times less variable than mixed amphetamine salts extended release.
Vyvanse tends to work consistently, with predictable release patterns that are not as strongly affected by diet or daily variation as some of its competitors. For someone with ADHD, this can mean a significant quality of life advantage.
Long term data of efficacy:
Studies show that people taking Vyvanse for up to a year still have greater than 60% improvement from baseline in ADHD symptoms. This long term data supports use of Vyvanse for years.
Lower abuse potential:
Because Vyvanse is digested in the blood, injecting it into your blood does not seem to provide the high that might be attained by other treatments. Additionally, snorting it is also unlikely to provide as much a high.
Because Vyvanse is long release, it additionally has less potential for abuse as abuse of stimulants tends to prefer instant release forms.
About half of Vyvanse is left in your body after ~9 ½ hours. This means that it has some effect for a long time. This extended release pattern outperforms competitors who do not last as long.
Vyvanse is made of d-amphetamine. This form of amphetamine may be less likely to cause anxiety side effects or feelings of “weirdness” compared to Adderall, which has the l-type in addition to the d-type. On the other hand, it may also not provide as much of a “kick” or generate the same degree of motivation as Adderall does.
Vyvanse is not generic so a prescription for it can cost more than the generic Adderall XR.