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Concerta vs Vyvanse: What’s the Difference?


vyvanse versus adderall

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When choosing a medication to help manage your ADHD symptoms, it can be difficult to discern which medication is better suited to your specific needs and goals. Though most ADHD medications are stimulant-based and have similar effects on the central nervous system, each formula is just a little different than the others. These variations exist so individuals with different health conditions and prescriptions have an easier time finding a safe ADHD treatment that’s right for them. 

Concerta and Vyvanse are two such medications. We’ve compared them below so you can choose the best one based on factors like drug interactions, possible side effects, and cost. 

If you’d like to learn more about either medication or think you’re ready to start ADHD treatment, book an appointment with a licensed ADHD specialist on Klarity today. 

What is Concerta?

Concerta (active ingredient: Methylphenidate) is a central nervous system stimulant that works by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain that control hyperactivity, focus, and impulsivity. This medication is a schedule II controlled substance primarily prescribed to help fight the symptoms of ADHD. Methylphenidate is similar to the active ingredients in ADHD medications Daytrana and Ritalin.

Forms and Dosages

Concerta is a once-a-day extended-release tablet that lasts up to 10 hours. Dosages come in 18 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg, 54 mg, and the max dosage of 72 mg. Typically, adults start off with an 18 mg dose and increase the potency until the desired result is achieved. Concerta should not be crushed or chewed.

Concerta has a unique delivery method called OROS, which stands for osmotically controlled release oral-delivery system. When Concerta is first taken, the outside shell dissolves and 22% of the total dose is delivered. Three inner compartments release at different times throughout the day as the intestines absorb the chambers, releasing the medication and resulting in a time-release effect that lasts up to 10 hours. 

One-sixth of the medication is never released and absorbed, so each capsule of Concerta actually delivers a few milligrams less than what is described. The medical community has yet to agree on the supremacy of backloaded, increasing doses versus steady release delivery systems. 

Concerta comes in six different “generic” formulations designated methylphenidate ER, and all come in the aforementioned strengths. This can cause quite a bit of confusion as all of these medications seem similar, but five of these products are actually inferior to the “branded generic” product. Recently, the FDA downgraded the quality ratings of two of these products. 

Consumers should stay away from the inferior generic Concerta products. Ask your pharmacist which one they are dispensing. The “branded generic” form of Concerta is shaped like a barrel, has a tiny hole on one end where the medication bleeds out, and should still bear the manufacturer name: ALZA. 

Conditions Treated

Concerta is FDA-approved for use in individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and sleeping disorders like narcolepsy.


Without insurance, a one-month supply of 36 mg Concerta tablets is approximately between $250 and $300. A generic supply of Concerta for the same exact quantity is approximately $60 a month but can vary depending on the pharmacy you choose. Online coupons are available that can knock down the price some. For more accurate pricing under your current health insurance plan, contact your provider’s pharmacy department. 

Side Effects

Most patients taking Concerta do not experience many side effects if any. Common side effects of Concerta include but are not limited to:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleep disruption
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach ache
  • Increased sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability

Severe but rare side effects of Concerta include:

  • Priapism
  • Eyesight changes
  • Blurred vision

Warnings and Drug Interactions

Before taking Concerta, have a candid discussion with your doctor concerning any of the following issues if you’ve experienced them in the past or are currently experiencing them:

  • Heart or blood-pressure-related issues
  • Mental illness or mental health issues
  • Circulation issues
  • Substance abuse

Concerta may exacerbate certain conditions or dangerously interact with medications you are currently taking. Read your prescription’s accompanying literature and be open and honest about your medical history when speaking with your healthcare provider. 

What is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse (active ingredient: lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) is a once-a-day time-released stimulant medication used to primarily treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents, and adults. Available since FDA approval in 2007, Vyvanse is a Schedule II federally controlled substance, although it is not considered a narcotic. 

Vyvanse works by targeting neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate behaviors like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and focus. 

Forms and Dosages

Vyvanse is what’s known as a prodrug, i.e., an inert medication that does not reach activation until it is processed by the liver. Because of this, and because it takes longer to process, Vyvanse has a lower risk of abuse and addiction as compared to medications like Adderall and Ritalin. 

This ADHD medication comes in 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg, and 70 mg doses. Vyvanse comes in chewable tablets, too, and follows the same guidelines for dosages and strength. Vyvanse is taken first thing in the morning with or without food. Capsules should be swallowed whole and not crushed or chewed. 

Conditions Treated

Vyvanse is FDA-approved to treat ADHD, some sleeping disorders like narcolepsy, and binge eating disorder (BED). 


Vyvanse is currently only in brand name form and does not have a generic version. The branded form of Vyvanse is one of the costlier ADHD medications on the market. A one-month supply of Vyvanse without health insurance is approximately between $400 and $450. For more information on pricing under your current health insurance plan, contact your provider’s pharmacy department. 

Side Effects

Most people taking Vyvanse do not experience side effects. Common side effects of Vyvanse include but are not limited to:

  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • irritability
  • nausea
  • trouble sleeping
  • vomiting
  • weight loss
  • upper stomach pain
  • decreased appetite
  • loss of appetite

Less common side effects of Vyvanse include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Mood changes, including aggression and depression
  • Muscle twitching
  • Uncontrolled movements
  • Blood flow problems in the fingers and toes
  • Swelling in the ankles and feet
  • Rapid and unexplained weight loss

Warnings and Drug Interactions

Vyvanse is a stimulant and can therefore cause health issues for those suffering from cardiac abnormalities, circulation issues, mental health issues, and substance abuse. Speak candidly with your healthcare provider about your medical history before taking this medication, and be sure to read your prescription’s accompanying literature for accurate information on warnings and drug interactions. 

Which Works Better for Your ADHD?

Vyvanse and Concerta are time-released central nervous system stimulants with two different delivery systems. While either may be effective for your type of ADHD, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider who can diagnose your ADHD and recommend the medication that best suits you.

Klarity Can Help You Find the Right ADHD Medication

KlarityADHD is your one-stop shop for ADHD diagnosis and treatment. Within 48 hours or less, we can get you in front of a licensed and certified healthcare provider in your state. Schedule an appointment or take our free self-evaluation.

Start today, and discuss your symptoms with a specialist who can help.

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