Vyvanse vs. Concerta: Comparing ADHD Medications

Authored by The Rx Advocates, / Medically Reviewed by Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS


When treating a health condition, you want the medication that will work the best for you or your loved one. It can help to look at a comparison of two medications to see what they have in common and how they are different.

Vyvanse and Concerta are two medications used to treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a common disorder that is most often diagnosed in childhood and goes into adulthood.

Children often have a difficult time focusing. This is normal. In children with ADHD, this is something that does not improve but can get worse, causing troubles at home, school, and among friends. Some symptoms of ADHD can include:

  • Frequent daydreaming
  • Often forgetting or losing things
  • Fidgeting or squirming
  • Excessive talking
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Unnecessary risk-taking
  • Difficulty resisting temptation
  • Difficulty with taking turns with others
  • Difficulty getting along with others

While there is no known cause of ADHD, research has shown that genetics is a big part of it. Other possible causes could be:

  • Low birth weight
  • Brain injury
  • Premature delivery
  • Being exposed to environmental risks during pregnancy or childhood
  • Tobacco or alcohol use during pregnancy

What is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse is the brand name for the drug lisdexamfetamine. It is prescribed as part of a program to help control symptoms of ADHD. It is given to children aged 6 and over and adults. This medicine can also be used to treat binge eating disorder in adults.

Lisdexamfetamine also has other brand names including Adderall, though this is not the same as Vyvanse.

The Side Effects of Vyvanse

Vyvanse is in the stimulant class of medication. Some common side effects have been reported when using this medicine that can include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite or decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping (Insomnia)
  • Dizziness
  • Serotonin syndrome (serious side effect)

*This is not a complete list of possible side effects.

Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about the side effects of this medicine.

Vyvanse Dosing

Vyvanse is taken once a day. It is available as an oral capsule or a chewable tablet. The oral capsules are available in the following strengths:

  • 10 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 30 mg
  • 40 mg
  • 50 mg
  • 60 mg
  • 70 mg

The chewable tablets are available in the following strengths:

  • 10 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 30 mg
  • 40 mg
  • 50 mg
  • 60 mg

Typically, the starting dose to treat ADHD and binge eating disorder is 30 mg. The maximum daily dosage of Vyvanse is 70 mg a day.

What is Concerta?

Concerta is the brand name medication for the drug methylphenidate. This is a drug used to treat ADHD. This medicine is prescribed in people ages 6-65.

Concerta is in the stimulant class of drugs. It works by increasing neurotransmitters in the brain to stimulate the brain. This helps improve the symptoms of ADHD.

Methylphenidate also has other brand names including Ritalin. Concerta and Ritalin are two different drugs.

Side Effects of Concerta

As with any medicine, Concerta can cause side effects. These can range from mild to serious. If you have any questions about the side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling tired
  • Getting easily annoyed or irritable
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Headache

Serious side effects:

  • Heart-related problems. Symptoms can be:
    • Fainting
    • Chest pain
    • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased blood pressure. Symptoms can be:
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Headache
    • Feeling tired
  • Seizures. Symptoms can be:
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Confusion
    • Uncontrolled movements
  • Prolonged, painful erection (Priapism)
  • Psychiatric problems:
    • Aggression
    • Depression
    • Hallucinations
  • Circulation problems in fingers and toes. Symptoms can be:
    • Pain
    • Color changes
    • Feeling numb or cold
  • Vision changes
  • Decreased growth (children)
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Allergic reaction
  • Dependence

*This is not a complete list of possible side effects.

Concerta Dosing

Concerta comes in a once-daily tablet. The effects of this medicine last for up to 12 hours in the body. This medication is available in the following strengths:

  • 18 mg
  • 27 mg
  • 36 mg
  • 54 mg

The starting dose for adults (age 18-65) treating ADHD is usually 18 mg to 36 mg. For children (ages 6-17) the typical starting dose is 18 mg.

The maximum dosage of Concerta is:

  • Younger children (6-12): 54 mg a day
  • Adolescents (13-17): 72 mg a day
  • Adults (18-25): 72 mg a day

Vyvanse vs. Concerta: A Comparison

There are similarities and differences between these medications. Whether you have seen them advertised or they have been recommended to you, it is important to know about each of them. It is also a good idea to see how they compare to each other.


  • Both Vyvanse and Concerta are central nervous system stimulants.
  • Both are long-acting. This means their effects last for up to 12 hours.
  • Both are approved to treat ADHD.
  • Both treat children (6 and older) and adults.
  • Both are Schedule II Controlled Substances. This means they have a potential for abuse, according to the DEA. They can cause psychological euphoria because of an increase in the amount of dopamine released.


  • Vyvanse treats binge eating disorder.
  • Vyvanse is a prodrug. It is inactive in the body until it is metabolized by the body.
  • Concerta’s delivery system is different. It is an osmotic-controlled release oral delivery system (OROS) pump system. This has medication on the top and absorption on the bottom. 22% of the medicine is quick release and 78% is slow release.
  • Vyvanse is available in chewable form, which may be better for children or anyone who has a hard time swallowing medicine.

Is one medicine better than the other? Not necessarily. Both medications are effective in treating ADHD in children and adults. They both have pros and cons, as with all medications. It is best to talk to your doctor to determine what is best for you or your child.

How Can The Rx Advocates Help You Save Money on Your Monthly Prescriptions?

When you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it is important to know the right course of treatment. Your doctor will likely recommend some kind of behavioral therapy along with medication. One of those medications could be either Vyvanse or Concerta.

Medicine can be expensive, especially in today’s economy. Even with insurance, the cost of prescription medication seems to be more than affordable.

At The Rx Advocates, we often hear stories about people who have a hard time paying for their medicine. People just like you have to choose between medicine for their children and paying monthly bills.

That is not how it should be.

We can help you save money every month on your Vyvanse or your Concerta prescription. We have a prescription assistance program that can help you get a discount on many different medications.

You pay for the service and your medicine. The medications get shipped to you for no additional fee.

If you need help affording your ADHD medication, we want to talk to you. Don’t hesitate – please contact us today.

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  2. Concerta. Once-Daily Concerta. October 2022. Available at: concerta.net.
  3. Medline Plus. Lisdexamfetamine. October 15, 2021. Available at: medlineplus.gov.
  4. Mayo Clinic. Binge-Eating Disorder. May 5, 2018. Available at: mayoclinic.org.
  5. Vyvanse: Side Effects & Safety. October 2022. Available at: vyvanse.com.
  6. Mayo Clinic. Insomnia. October 15, 2016. Available at: mayoclinic.org.
  7. Mayo Clinic. Serotonin Syndrome. January 22, 2022. Available at: mayoclinic.org.
  8. Medical News Today. Vyvanse Dosage. February 23, 2022. Available at: medicalnewstoday.com.
  9. Medical News Today. Concerta. February 11, 2022. Available at: medicalnewstoday.com.
  10. Medical News Today. Concerta side effects. February 11, 2022. Available at: medicalnewstoday.com.
  11. Mayo Clinic. Hyperhidrosis. September 18, 2022. Available at: mayoclinic.org.
  12. Mayo Clinic. Priapism. August 31, 2021. Available at: mayoclinic.org.
  13. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH). Alopecia Areata. April 2021. Available at: niams.nih.gov.
  14. Medical News Today. Concerta Dosage. February 11, 2022. Available at: medicalnewstoday.com.
  15. Healthline. Concerta vs Vyvanse: Which ADHD Medication Is Best?. July 3, 2019. Available at: healthline.com.
  16. DEA. Drug Scheduling. October 2022. Available at: dea.gov.
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