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Medically reviewed by, Russell Braun RPH
Both Adzenys and Adderall are medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adzenys contains amphetamine while Adderall contains two forms of amphetamine stimulant, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
Adzenys has been shown to increase focus and decrease impulsiveness, which are the key problems with ADHD. Adderall has been on the market longer and in addition to ADHD has been approved for other uses such as narcolepsy.
Both drugs carry the potential for abuse, which is the reason they are federally controlled substances. This means they have tight restrictions due to abuse potential or addiction risk. Stimulant drugs have been abused as athletic and academic performance enhancers in addition to recreational abuse.
More and more cases of ADHD
According to data from the center for disease control (CDC) 9.4% of children between 2-17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD. Approximately 75% of those children will end up on a medication for ADHD.
Is medication always the answer?
Much is written about the negative impact of ADHD. While it can be a challenge to deal with, there have also been many highly successful people with ADHD. That said the books and workbooks below give a great perspective that doesn’t focus solely on medication.
What about when medication is required?
Neotherapeutics the manufacturer of Adzenys created the new dosage form to help patients who can’t swallow pills. Due to the prevalence of ADHD in young children the concept makes sense.
Amphetamine containing medications have been proven to be effective in treating ADHD. By stimulating chemicals in the central nervous system that control impulse control, they are able to treat the primary issues seems with ADHD.
The question to ask:
Is the high price tag for Adzenys worth it?
1. What is Adzenys?
You might ask, why would I take Adzenys when Adderall has been around much longer and has a generic available? Adzenys is actually more about the dosage form.
What does that mean?
Adzenys is what is known as an oral disintegrating tablet (ODT). That means it dissolves in your mouth and you don’t actually have to swallow the tablet. It is absorbed through the gums also known as sublingual absorption.
Most drugs that come in an OTD form act rapidly in the body because sublingual absorption is very good and happens quickly. With Adzenys the drug is packed into micro particles half of which are immediate release and the other half are extended release.
What is the advantage?
The key advantage to Adzenys XR-ODT is that the extended release particles make the drug last long enough that is only needs to be taken once per day.
Many patients who use stimulants for ADHD notice a “crash” late in the dosing period also known as the time between doses. Adzenys having both an immediate release and extended release component may smoothly transition into bedtime with it’s once daily dosing.
2. Is Adzenys the same as Adderall?
Adderall is a mixture of the amphetamine salts amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. There are two forms of Adderall currently. The original product was regular release which is taken twice a day and Adderall XR or extended release taken once daily.
Adzenys is only amphetamine and has no dextroamphetamine component. When it was approved by the FDA it was shown to be equivalent to Adderall XR. Adzenys is the first ADHD medication that was made to be an orally disintegrating tablet that dissolves in the mouth.
However, Adzenys is it’s own branded product. It can’t be substituted like a generic by your pharmacist to Adderall or vise versa.
Are there major differences?
Adzenys starts working within an hour of taking the tablet. That is longer than regular Adderall but similar to Adderall XR. Both Adderall XR and Adzenys will last for about 12 hours before wearing off. That is much longer than regular release Adderall that needs to be taken twice per day.
When you pick up Adzenys from the pharmacy you will notice it comes in a blister pack, not a bottle like most medication. The blister pack, which is just tear away packaging you open up to get the medication out, is supposed to make Adzenys easy to carry around with you. Keep in mind this is a controlled substance and you need to keep an eye on Adzenys as it is a medication that others may want to abuse.
3. Is the dose of Adzenys the same as Adderall?
A patient already taking either drug who wants to switch to would need to be converted to a similar dose. A conversion table was created by the manufacturer of Adzenys. The drug comes in six different strengths for very precise dosing. You should discuss which dose is best for you with your doctor.
When should I take Adzenys?
Adzenys should be taken in the morning. The drug is a stimulant meaning it will make it difficult to sleep if you were to take it later in the day. The extended release nature of the product works to provide it’s effects during waking hours. By the time you are ready for sleep the medications effects will be wearing off allowing you to sleep well.
Other important considerations:
- Do not remove Adzenys from the blister pack until you are ready to take it.
- Adzenys should not be pushed through the foil as this could damage the extended release properties.
- The tablet should not be chewed or crushed, it will disintegrate in saliva
- If you take products containing vitamin C or sodium bicarbonate you should let your prescriber know, this can change the dose of Adzenys required
4. Side effects
Nearly all stimulant drugs create there effects by increasing metabolism and heart rate, even raise your body temperature. Some of the most important side effects to be aware of for amphetamine containing products include:
- Slowing of growth in children
- Heart related problems
- Increased blood pressure
5. Potential for abuse
Amphetamine stimulant drugs have the potential for abuse. They have been widely used by college students as party drugs that keep them going late into the night. In fact, what most people don’t realize is that amphetamine drugs are very similar to the illegal drug methamphetamine.
The only difference is something called a methyl group, which you may have heard of in chemistry class. That single change makes the drug enter the brain much quicker than amphetamines and that quick brain update is responsible for the euphoria that meth users become addicted to.
That said, amphetamine drugs like Adzenys and Adderall are legal with a prescription but they potential for abuse is still high. That is why they are considered a class 2 (C2) controlled substance. C2’s are the most restive type of controlled substance that is still considered legal by the drug enforcement agency (DEA).
It is safe to say you should always keep these medications in a safe place. Do not underestimate that many people you may not suspect may have drug seeking tendencies.
6. How much does Adzenys cost?
Adzenys is still only available as a brand product. That means it is going to be much more expensive than generic forms of Adderall. The only reason to pay more for Adzenys is the delivery mechanism. Trouble swallowing seems like it could be overcome, unless there is a legitimate medical reason for not being able to swallow pills
There are at least four patents on Adzenys that will keep it brand only until at least 2032! All six strengths of Adzenys XR – ODT are currently the same cash price for a 30 day supply, which is $344 according to GoodRx.
Adzenys XR liquid is also available. The liquid comes as 1.25mg/ml and if you need a lower dose, then it is actually cheaper. However, as you can see below, higher doses cost much more than ODT. The table below shows the cost for a 30 day supply cost of liquid.
Adderall XR cost
Because Adderall XR has been on the market for a longer time it has lost it’s brand patent. This means generic versions are available which make it much cheaper. The cash prices are shown below for various strengths.
Most insurance plans will not cover Adzenys, but would have a generic version of Adderall XR on formulary. The same is true for Medicare plans. Typically, the most preferred formulary option will have the best copay price.
In fact, most insurers would require your doctor to complete a prior authorization in order for Adzenys to be covered. Most would want some type of proof that the patient actually could not swallow tablets and had a medical necessity for Adzenys.
8. Copay coupon card
Adderall XR is available generically and generic drugs typically do not have copay coupon cards.
The manufacturer of Adzenys has a copay coupon card that helps to offset the copay cost. If you have a high deductible health plan you might be on the hook for the whole $344 if you have not met your deductible. Even on a regular insurance plan the deductible may be high due to this drug lacking formulary coverage in most cases.
The copay coupon card will bring the cost down to as little as $15 for a 30 day supply. If the drug is not covered the maximum you would pay would be $50.
In order to be eligible to use the copay coupon card you must have the following:
- Valid prescription
- Have insurance
- Patients with Medicare or Medicaid are NOT eligible
Copay coupons cards do not last forever!
Eventually the free money will end, making a tough choice if you should continue this medication and then pay the high copay. One good way to avoid this potential issue it try samples.
Ask for samples if you think Adzenys is for you. The reason is that the sample will give you a chance to determine if you can tolerate this drug before you actually have to pay for it.
Most doctors who would be treating you for ADHD should have samples available as the manufacturer is more than willing to provide them.
Read 5 reasons for bullet journaling medication effects to learn more about what to track while you have samples. This will help you determine if you should continue taking Adzenys or ask your doctor for another treatment.
10. Medicare Extra Help
Extra help is for patients who are low income and are looking for other options. This is a federal program that helps patients with Medicare through a low income subsidy.
Medicare extra help is like it’s name implies, works in addition to your Medicare plan. Therefore, your plans formulary requirements will need to be followed. Click here for more information on the Medicare Extra Help program.
11. Which should you choose?
Adzenys is an effective, yet very costly medication to treat AHDH. Adderall XR is available generically making it much cheaper. Decide if the oral disintegrating tablet is worth the extra cost for you when weighing all the options.
Click here to get Dr. Jason Reed’s exclusive list of medication questions you MUST ask your doctor, for FREE!
Share your story!
Have you used Adzenys or Adderall? Did they work for you? Please chime in below with your comments and thoughts below