A second controlled-release formulation of the psychostimulant methylphenidate (Ritalin LA) was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) on 1 April 2008. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) agreed that Ritalin LA and the previously listed controlled-release formulation (Concerta) are similarly effective for a similar cost.1

The restricted listing allows Ritalin LA to be prescribed for patients aged 6 to 18 years inclusive for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).1 The patient must have previously responded to the immediate-release formulation of methylphenidate (Ritalin) without serious adverse events. Relevant State and Territory regulations must also be followed when prescribing psychostimulants.

Immediate-release methylphenidate should be used for initial dose titration before switching to an equivalent dose of the controlled-release formulation.2 A once-daily dose of Ritalin LA is similar to twice-daily dosing with immediate-release methylphenidate (a once-daily dose of Concerta is equivalent to three-times-daily dosing). Half of the Ritalin LA dose is released immediately and the other half about 4 hours later, eliminating the need for taking medication at school.3