When Was Ritalin Invented?


Ritalin is the brand name for the stimulant drug methylphenidate, developed by CIBA, now known as Novartis. It is used for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


CIBA filed for the Ritalin trademark on July 9, 1948, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records. Novartis Corp. now owns the brand name. The Food and Drug Administration first approved Ritalin on Dec. 5, 1955, as an oral tablet. The active ingredient is listed in FDA records as methylphenidate hydrochloride.


ADHD is a behavioral disorder, most commonly displayed in children who exhibit inappropriate levels of impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattention. Records of symptoms and treatments of ADHD date to the early 20th century. However, attention-deficit disorder (ADD) did not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1968.

Treatment of ADD/ADHD

In 1937, Charles Bradley released a study showing that Benzedrine, an amphetamine, reduced the symptoms of ADHD, according to a paper published in January 2009 by Kennerly S. Patrick, Arthur B. Straughn, Jeb S. Perkins and Mario A. González in Hum Psychopharmacol. However, Benzedrine had side effects including nausea, feelings of unease, decreased motor skills and malaise.

According to Lawrence Diller's book "Running on Ritalin," published in June 1999, Ritalin first began being prescribed in 1960. However, it was not until the 1990s when Ritalin prescriptions saw a dramatic increase. According to a 1995 PBS airing of The Merrow Report, prescriptions rose to 2 million and were doubling every two years. This increase was, in part, due to the advocacy of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit (CHADD), a group that received significant funding from CIBA, according to The Merrow Report.


Because CHADD received funding from CIBA (now Novartis), The Merrow Report suggested that its advocacy of Ritalin may have constituted a conflict of interest. According to a Reuters Health Medical News article published on Sept. 15, 2000, a class action lawsuit was filed against Novartis, with the allegation that the company "conspired with the American Psychiatric Association" to create ADD "to fuel the market" for Ritalin. Novartis denied the charges. The lawsuit later was dismissed.

Daytrana and Concerta

Developed by Ortho McNeil Janssen, Concerta is an extended-release version of Ritalin's active ingredient. It is a tablet that is taken once a day orally. Concerta was approved by the FDA on Aug. 1, 2000. On April 6, 2006, the FDA approved Daytrana, a methylphenidate patch developed by Shire.

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