FDA Clears Nonstimulant for ADHD in Kids 6 Years and Up

Megan Brooks

April 05, 2021

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the nonstimulant medication viloxazine extended-release capsules (Qelbree, Supernus Pharmaceuticals) for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children aged 6 to 17 years, the company has announced.

Viloxazine (formerly SPN-812) is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Capsules may be swallowed whole or opened and the entire contents sprinkled onto applesauce, as needed.

The approval of viloxazine is supported by data from four phase 3 clinical trials involving more than 1000 pediatric patients aged 6 to 17 years, the company said.

In one randomized, placebo-controlled phase 3 study that included more than 400 children, viloxazine reduced symptoms of ADHD as soon as 1 week after dosing and was well tolerated.

As reported by Medscape Medical News, the study was published last July in Clinical Therapeutics.

In addition to its fast onset of action, the fact that it was effective for both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive clusters of symptoms is "impressive," study investigator Andrew Cutler, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, told Medscape Medical News.

Also noteworthy was the improvement in measures of quality of life and function, "especially function in the areas of school, home life, family relations, and peer relationships, which can be really disrupted with ADHD," Cutler said.

The prescribing label for viloxazine includes a boxed warning regarding the potential for suicidal thoughts and behaviors in some children with ADHD treated with the drug, especially within the first few months of treatment or when the dose is changed.    

In clinical trials, higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behavior were reported in pediatric patients treated with viloxazine than in patients treated with placebo. Patients taking viloxazine should be closely monitored for any new or sudden changes in mood, behavior, thoughts, and feelings.

Viloxazine has also shown promise in a phase 3 trial involving adults with ADHD.

The company plans to submit a supplemental new drug application to the FDA for viloxazine in adults later this year.

For more Medscape Psychiatry news, join us on Twitter and Facebook


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.