|Systematic (IUPAC) name|
|Bioavailability||63 to 94%|
|Metabolism||Hepatic, via CYP2D6|
|Biological half-life||5.2 hours|
|Excretion||Renal (80%) and faecal (17%)|
|ATC code||N06BA09 (WHO)|
|Molar mass||255.36 g/mol
291.81 g/mol (hydrochloride)
|(what is this?)|
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Classified as a norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitor (NRI), atomoxetine is approved for use in children, adolescents, and adults. However, its efficacy has not been studied in children under six years old. Its primary advantage over the standard stimulant treatments for ADHD is that it has little known abuse potential. While it has been shown to significantly reduce inattentive and hyperactive symptoms, the responses were lower than the response to stimulants. Additionally, 40% of participants who were treated with Atomoxetine experienced significant residual ADHD symptoms.
The initial therapeutic effects of atomoxetine usually take 2–4 weeks to become apparent. A further 2–4 weeks may be required for the full therapeutic effects to be seen. Its efficacy may be less than that of stimulant medications.
Very common (>10% incidence) adverse effects include:
- Nausea (26%)
- Xerostomia (Dry mouth) (20%)
- Appetite loss (16%)
- Insomnia (15%)
- Fatigue (10%)
Common (1-10% incidence) adverse effects include:
- Constipation (8%)
- Dizziness (8%)
- Erectile dysfunction (8%)
- Somnolence (sleepiness) (8%)
- Abdominal pain (7%)
- Urinary hesitation (6%)
- Tachycardia (high heart rate) (5-10%)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) (5-10%)
- Irritability (5%)
- Abnormal dreams (4%)
- Dyspepsia (4%)
- Ejaculation disorder (4%)
- Hyperhidrosis (abnormally increased sweating) (4%)
- Vomiting (4%)
- Hot flashes (3%)
- Paraesthesia (sensation of tingling, tickling, etc.) (3%)
- Menstrual disorder (3%)
- Weight loss (2%)
- Sinus headache
- Mood swings
Uncommon (0.1-1% incidence) adverse effects include:
Rare (0.01-0.1% incidence) adverse effects including
- Raynaud's phenomenon
- Abnormal/increased liver function tests
- Liver injury
- Acute liver failure
- Urinary retention
- Male genital pain
The FDA of the US has issued a black box warning for suicidal behaviour/ideation. Similar warnings have been issued in Australia. Unlike stimulant medications, atomoxetine does not have abuse liability or the potential to cause withdrawal effects on abrupt discontinuation.
- Hypersensitivity to atomoxetine or any of the excipients in the product
- Symptomatic cardiovascular disease including:
- -moderate to severe hypertension
- -atrial fibrillation
- -atrial flutter
- -ventricular tachycardia
- -ventricular fibrillation
- -ventricular flutter
- -advanced arteriosclerosis
Atomoxetine is a substrate for CYP2D6 and hence concurrent treatment with CYP2D6 inhibitors such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) or fluoxetine (Prozac) is not recommended, as this can lead to significant elevations of plasma atomoxetine levels. CYP2D6 is not very susceptible to enzyme induction. Other possible drug interactions include:
- Antihypertensive and pressor agents, due to the potential pressor effect of indirect sympathomimetics such as atomoxetine.
- Norepinephrine-acting agents such as α1 adrenoceptor agonists or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors due to the potential for additive or synergistic pharmacologic effects.
- β-adrenoceptor agonists due to the potential for the effects of these drugs to be potentiated by atomoxetine.
- Highly plasma protein-bound drugs due to the potential of atomoxetine to displace these drugs from plasma proteins and hence potentiate their adverse effects. Examples include diazepam, paroxetine and phenytoin.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Abnormal behaviour
- Dry mouth
Less common symptoms:
- QTc interval prolongation
Detection in biological fluids
Atomoxetine may be quantitated in plasma, serum or whole blood in order to distinguish extensive versus poor metabolizers in those receiving the drug therapeutically, to confirm the diagnosis in potential poisoning victims or to assist in the forensic investigation in a case of fatal overdosage.
Chemistry and composition
Atomoxetine is designated chemically as (−)-N-methyl-3-phenyl-3-(o-tolyloxy)-propylamine hydrochloride, and has a molecular mass of 291.82. It has a solubility of 27.8 mg/ml in water. Atomoxetine is a white solid that exists as a granular powder inside the capsule, along with pregelatinized starch and dimethicone. The capsule shells contain gelatin, sodium lauryl sulfate, FD&C Blue No. 2, yellow iron oxide, titanium dioxide, red iron oxide, edible black ink, and trace amounts of other inactive ingredients.
Atomoxetine inhibits NET, SERT, and DAT with respective Ki values of 5, 77, and 1451 nM. In microdialysis studies, it increased NE and DA levels by three-fold in the prefrontal cortex, but did not alter DA levels in the striatum or nucleus accumbens. Atomoxetine's selective increase in NE and DA are due to a lack of high concentrations of DAT in the prefrontal cortex (where the NET transports DA instead), and the nucleus accumbens's relative paucity of NE neurons. A PET imaging study of rhesus monkeys found that atomoxetine inhibited the NET and SERT with IC50 values of 31 ng/mL and 99 ng/mL plasma, respectively, and that at clinically relevant doses, atomoxetine would occupy >90% of NET and >85% of SERT. Assuming that these findings translate to humans, atomoxetine would in fact be a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) rather than a selective NRI as has conventionally been assumed.
Atomoxetine also acts as an NMDA receptor antagonist at clinically relevant doses. The role of NMDA receptor antagonism in atomoxetine's therapeutic profile remains to be further elucidated, but recent literature has further implicated glutaminergic dysfunction as central in ADHD pathophysiology and etiology. 4-Hydroxyatomoxetine, the principle metabolite of atomoxetine, exhibits relatively weak affinity for μ-opioid receptors and κ-opioid receptors. Creighton et al. reported antagonism of μ-opioid receptors and a partial agonist action at κ-opioid receptors. The clinical significance of these effects are not known. Atomoxetine has been found to inhibit both brain and cardiac G protein-coupled inwardly-rectifying potassium channels, a characteristic it shares with the related drug reboxetine.
|Protein||Ki (nM) for atomoxetine||Ki (nM) for 4-hydroxyatomoxetine|
|Alpha adrenergic receptors||>1000||?|
|Beta adrenergic receptors||>1000||?|
|D1 & D2||>1000||?|
|M1 & M2||>1000||?|
|H1 & H2||>1000||?|
|δ1 opioid receptor||?||300|
|κ1 opioid receptor||?||95|
|μ opioid receptor||?||422|
Atomoxetine is manufactured, marketed, and sold in the United States as the hydrochloride salt (atomoxetine HCl) under the brand name Strattera by Eli Lilly and Company, the original patent-filing company and current U.S. patent owner. Strattera was approved by the FDA in 2006 for the treatment of ADHD. No generic is manufactured directly in the United States since it is under patent until 2017. On 12 August 2010, Lilly lost a lawsuit that challenged its patent on Strattera, increasing the likelihood of an earlier entry of a generic into the US market. On 1 September 2010, Sun Pharmaceuticals announced it would begin manufacturing a generic in the United States. In a 29 July 2011 conference call, however, Sun Pharmaceutical's Chairman stated "Lilly won that litigation on appeal so I think [generic Strattera]’s deferred."
In India, atomoxetine is sold under brand names including Attentrol [Sun Pharma], Axepta, [Intas Pharma] Attera [Icon pharma], Tomoxetin [Torrent Pharma], Atokem [Alkem Pharma], and Attentin [Ranbaxy Pharma].
In Romania, atomoxetine is sold under the brand name Strattera and as a generic made by Sun Pharmaceuticals.
In Iran, atomoxetine is sold under brand names including stramox by TeKaJe Co.
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Since the prefrontal cortex lacks high concentrations of DAT, DA is inactivated in this part of the brain by NET. Thus, inhibiting NET increases both DA and NE in the prefrontal cortex (Figures 12-36 and 17-21). However, since there are only a few NE neurons and NETs in nucleus accumbens, inhibiting NET does not lead to an increase in either NE or DA there (Figure 17-21). For this reason, in ADHD patients with deficient arousal and weak NE and DA signals in prefrontal cortex, a selective NRI such as atomoxetine increases both NE and DA in prefrontal cortex, enhancing tonic signaling of both, but it increases neither NE nor DA in the nucleus accumbens. Therefore atomoxetine has no abuse potential.
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