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What does it do?

Methylphenidate is used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and narcolepsy.

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have heart, thyroid or eye problems (e.g. glaucoma), Tourette’s syndrome, a mood disorder, high blood pressure, or if you have ever had a seizure.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

How should you take it?

Take methylphenidate regularly as directed with a glass of water.
Swallow methylphenidate slow release (e.g. Concerta®, Ritalin LA®, Ritalin SR®, Rubifen SR®) whole.

What if you forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and carry on as normal. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action


Fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain

Reduced number of blood cells that fight infections or help your blood to clot - symptoms include: fever, chills, sore throat or generally feeling unwell, or easy or unusual bruising or bleeding

Symptoms of allergy including: skin rash, itching, swelling, trouble breathing

Prolonged erection (longer than four hours)

Tell your doctor immediately

Changes in vision

Unusual behaviour or thinking, mood changes, agitation, nervousness, strange or uncontrolled movements

Tell your doctor

Headache, trouble sleeping

Hair loss or thinning, sweating

Joint, muscle or bone aches and pains

Runny or blocked nose, cough

Loss of appetite, weight loss, dry mouth

Tell your doctor if troublesome

Stomach upset

Take with food

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Methylphenidate can impair your ability to do tasks such as driving or using machines. Alcohol makes this worse. Discuss your risk with your health professional. (search NZTA - Are you safe to drive?)
  • If you are having surgery, it is important to tell your doctor that you are taking methylphenidate.
  • Do not stop taking methylphenidate without talking to your doctor first.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the MyMedicines Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha, New Zealand. January 2024

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed