Concerta and Vyvanse are two stimulant medications that doctors can prescribe to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

ADHD is a common condition in children and can also occur in adults. People with ADHD may experience difficulty planning, organizing, and concentrating on tasks at school or work, among other symptoms. The condition can also present social challenges.

Stimulants are often the first-line treatment for ADHD. Many stimulants are available, and each has pros and cons. Concerta and Vyvanse are both long-acting, which makes them different from other common ADHD medications, such as Ritalin.

In this article, we discuss the differences and similarities between Concerta and Vyvanse. We also look at their side effects and risks.

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People can take Concerta or Vyvanse for ADHD, but doctors can also prescribe Vyvanse for binge eating disorder.

As Concerta and Vyvanse are both stimulants, their effects are very similar. The most significant difference between them is that Vyvanse is a prodrug, which means it is inactive until the body metabolizes it.

Both drugs are long-acting, with effects lasting for about 12 hours. This can be helpful for people who do not wish to take medication several times per day.

Taking medication only once per day can be especially good for children, who may find it difficult to remember to take multiple doses.


The generic drug name of Concerta is methylphenidate. Methylphenidate is also the drug that manufacturers use in Ritalin. The difference between Concerta and Ritalin is how long the medication lasts in the body.

Concerta uses an osmotic-controlled release oral delivery system (OROS). Manufacturers have developed this pump system to deliver Concerta throughout the day rather than all at once. This controlled delivery gives people a steady dose of the drug and allows for long-term symptom control.

Concerta is available in a less expensive generic form. However, the generic versions do not use the OROS pump delivery system and, therefore, may not have the same effects as Concerta.

To keep the OROS pump delivery system intact, people cannot chew or crush the Concerta tablets. As a result, the tablets may not be suitable for children who cannot swallow pills.

Concerta is available in tablets of the following strengths:

  • 18 milligrams (mg)
  • 27 mg
  • 36 mg
  • 54 mg

A doctor will usually start by prescribing the lowest possible dosage and will increase it only if necessary.

Doctors prescribe Concerta to treat the symptoms of ADHD because it acts as a stimulant that increases the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain.

Norepinephrine and dopamine are two chemicals in the brain that have an association with ADHD symptoms.

Concerta has approval for the treatment of ADHD in people 6–65 years old.


The generic name of the drug Vyvanse is lisdexamfetamine. Doctors prescribe Vyvanse to treat ADHD and moderate to severe binge eating disorder in adults.

The body breaks down lisdexamfetamine into dextroamphetamine after a person swallows it. This compound has stimulating effects on the brain, but doctors are unsure exactly how it treats symptoms of ADHD or binge eating disorder.

Vyvanse is available as a capsule or as a chewable tablet. Vyvanse capsules are available in the following strengths:

  • 10 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 30 mg
  • 40 mg
  • 50 mg
  • 60 mg
  • 70 mg

Vyvanse chewable tablets are available in the following strengths:

  • 10 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 30 mg
  • 40 mg
  • 50 mg
  • 60 mg

Doctors will prescribe a starting dosage of 30 mg once daily in the morning for people 6 years or older with ADHD.

If this initial dosage is not providing symptom relief, the doctor may raise the daily dose by 10 or 20 mg each week.

The maximum daily dose of Vyvanse for ADHD is 70 mg.

All stimulants can cause side effects. A person should speak with a doctor if the side effects of a medication are bothersome or outweigh the positive effects.

Common side effects of Concerta include:

Common side effects of Vyvanse include:

While Concerta can cause persistent and painful erections, there are limited reports of Vyvanse having this effect.

Concerta and Vyvanse belong to the same class of medications — stimulants — and have similar risks and considerations.

Children and adults with heart problems must avoid using Concerta or Vyvanse because stimulants can worsen heart conditions.

Doctors have reported sudden death due to stimulants in children and adults with a history of heart conditions.

Some people using Concerta or Vyvanse may experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, but a doctor will regularly monitor these changes.

Concerta is not suitable for people who have tics or Tourette syndrome. Vyvanse can cause tics in about 2% of people, but tics are not a contraindication of its use.

People who have glaucoma should also avoid taking Concerta, but they can use Vyvanse safely.

Doctors have reported mental health conditions in people with or without a history of them. Before prescribing either drug, a doctor will conduct a thorough medical history and schedule follow-up appointments to monitor for mental health changes.

Children taking stimulants such as Concerta and Vyvanse may experience slower growth. During treatment, a doctor will monitor a child’s height and weight to detect any abnormalities and manage the treatment plan accordingly.

If people chronically misuse Concerta or Vyvanse, they can develop a dependence. The Drug Enforcement Administration controls these substances because of the risk of misuse.

Both Concerta and Vyvanse are common options for treating ADHD. Which of the two drugs is better will depend on a person’s experience.

Doctors will choose one of these treatment options and schedule follow-ups to see whether the medication is working. A person should also report any side effects to the doctor.

The information that doctors gather from follow-up appointments will allow them to find the best medication to treat someone’s ADHD symptoms safely and effectively.

As Vyvanse is available in a chewable form, it is often more suitable for children or people who have difficulty swallowing pills.

There are also other stimulant medications for ADHD, including:

  • Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine)
  • Biphentin (methylphenidate)
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  • Daytrana (methylphenidate)
  • Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)

Nonstimulant ADHD medications are another option. These medications include atomoxetine (Strattera) and guanfacine. Although antidepressants are not specifically approved to treat ADHD, they can sometimes help manage symptoms.

Concerta and Vyvanse are two drugs that are effective in treating ADHD in children and adults. These two drugs belong to the same family of stimulants and share many side effects.

People with heart problems or a history of mental health conditions should avoid using either drug and speak with a doctor about other options.

Concerta and Vyvanse can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which can be dangerous for some people.

Vyvanse is available in a chewable form, which may be more suitable for children. People with tics, Tourette syndrome, or glaucoma cannot take Concerta.

A doctor will consider the differences between Concerta and Vyvanse before prescribing one because either drug may not be suitable for everyone.