While many physicians and psychiatrists are recommending the use of adderall to treat patients who are suffering from psychiatric or mental diseases and narcolepsy, medical reports also indicate deaths related to the use of the said drug.

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In 2005, the Canadian government suspended the selling of adderall in the market after 20 international reported deaths of children who took the drug. The pharmaceutical company producing the medication, defended that the deaths are rare and in fact constitutes only a very small population among the adderall drug users in the world. They should not be the cause of the pulling out of the drug in the market (Consumer Affairs, 2005).

In the United States, the selling of the drug has not been suspended. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released an advisory indicating that the risk of sudden deaths is not a sufficient ground that would justify the suspension of the drug in the country (Consumer Affairs, 2005). At present, the drug continues to be sold in the market. A new kind was even released recently the adderallXR or the extended release form.


Adderall is a brand name of an amphetamine that is mainly used to treat patients who are suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder. It is a prescribed drug that is being abused by many college students. The drug was introduced in 1996 by Shire Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in the form of an instant release tablet. The formula used for the said tablet is the same formula that was used for the drug Obitrol, a weight management drug that was pulled out from the market.

The discontinuance of the distribution from the market was ignited by a new research indicating the beneficial use of the drug in the ADD community. The name was changed to Adderall for marketing purposes (Andrews, J., and Davis, D., 1997).

In 2006, Shire sold its right for the instant release adderall to Duramed Pharmaceuticals. The sale of the rights gave way for the generic formulationof the drug. In 2001, Shire Pharmaceuticals introduced adderall XR or the extended release form.

Page 2 Adderall: Life or Death Essay

Adderall is categorized as an “off-label”drug. The classification indicates that a prescription medicine may be used for purposes other than the use approved by the FDA. Physicians have the discretion to prescribe a specificdrug for certain diseases (MedTV, 2008).

How adderall works

Adderall is known for its ability to balance the chemicals in the brain that are responsible for hyperactivity and impulse control thereby providing better focus and attention. The drug works in such a way that it increases the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. These two chemicals, if altered in quantity could affect behavior and mood.

Dopamine is a versatile neurotransmitter which is essential in the functioning of the brain’s central nervous system. It helps in controlling movement and plays a major role in emotion-based behaviors. The chemical also plays a vital function in the mesocorticolimbic pathway. Nuerons that are located in the ventral tegmentalarea of the brain dispatch dopamine to neurons that are connected with the limbic system which regulates emotion and behavior as well as the sense of smell, heartbeat and breathing (MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2008).

Norepinephrine functions both as a neurotrasmitter and a hormone. It is secreted by the adrenal gland and works with adrenaline or epinephrine in order to provide energy for the body in times of stress (Read and Purse, 2007).

While the exact mechanism on how the drug actually works in the human body is not yet known, researchers believe that adderall functions in such a way that the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine into the presynaptic neuron is blocked and the release of the presynaptic neuron to the extraneuronal space is increased. The drug reverses the reuptake mechanism and functions as a pump instead of a vacuum. Studies also show that amphetamine and related compounds thereof such as ephedrine displaces from the presynaptic neuron the noradrenaline and fails to act as a reuptake inhibitor.

The increased flow in the extraneuronal space of dopamine and norepinephrine leads the brain of the patient to experience a more intense kind of concentration and an increased ability to focus for a longer period of time. The patient also generates greater interest in the completion of tasks that are based on concentration and focus (Medic8, 2008).

Amphetamines are considered as non-catecholamine sympathomimetic amines that have CNS stimulant activity. The peripheral actions of the drug include the elevation of the diastolic and systolic blood pressures and weaken respiratory and brondilator stimulant action (FDA, 2005).

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