Side Effects of Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) Side Effects
Dextroamphetamine, available under the brand Dexedrine, is prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and for narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder in which sufferers have excessive daytime sleepiness or may fall asleep with little or no warning. Dextroamphetamine is also sold under the brand names Dextrostat, ProCentra, and Zenzedi. Dextroamphetamine is a type of amphetamine and a stimulant.
Dexedrine Black Box Warnings
Drugs that contain dextroamphetamine are labeled with two “black box” warnings from the FDA. These warnings indicate particularly serious Dexedrine side effects.
One of the black box Dexedrine adverse effects is related to abuse and dependency. Dexedrine is a central nervous system stimulant that affects the dopamine system in the brain; it can cause feelings of euphoria (a “high”) and mania (excited, erratic behavior). Over time, users of dextroamphetamine may develop dependence on the drug, especially if they use the drug inappropriately.
The other black box warning involves the cardiovascular effects of stimulant drugs, including Dexedrine. Dexedrine can greatly increase the risk of coronary heart problems, including angina and heart attack. Therefore, physicians avoid prescribing dextroamphetamine-containing drugs to people with heart conditions, or do so along with careful monitoring.
Serious Side Effects
Dexedrine is associated with several significant adverse events. Listed below are serious side effects of Dexedrine as reported by the FDA:
- Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle damage)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart palpitations
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
Cardiovascular Side Effects:
Psychiatric Side Effects:
- Aggressive Behavior
- Dysphoria (Altered Mood)
- Exacerbation of Tics
The psychiatric effects of Dexedrine can occur in patients at any age, but are particularly prominent and serious in patients older than age 65. These drugs are usually avoided in people older than age 75.
Dermatological Side Effects:
- Urticaria (hives)
- Raynaud’s phenomenon (some areas of the body feel numb and cool)
- Breakdown of skin in the fingers and toes
Sexual Side Effects:
- Change in sex drive
- Frequent erections
- Erection that lasts for several hours
Other serious side effects are anorexia (especially in children), constipation, diarrhea, unpleasant taste in the mouth, dry mouth, Dyskinesia (difficulty walking and moving, tremors, Rhabdomyolysis (painful muscle damage), weight loss, blurred vision, and difficulty seeing up-close objects.
One of the key Dexedrine side effects is not precisely a side effect at all; it occurs when chronic users of the drug stop taking the drug abruptly. The brain and body adapt to the stimulant when Dexedrine is taken for a long time. When the patient stops taking the drug, he or she may experience irritability, depression, and intense hunger. These withdrawal symptoms can be lessened or avoided by slowly reducing the dosage of the drug instead of stopping abruptly.
About Pharmacogenetic Testing
Pharmacogenetics is how drug metabolism is affected by gene variants and side effects occur because of how genetic variants affect the breakdown of medications. Those who experience more severe adverse effects are because the medications accumulate in the body are called poor metabolizers. Some may also see the drug is ineffective because the body eliminates the drug too quickly, making them rapid metabolizers. As a result, pharmacogenetic testing helps healthcare providers select medications with fewer serious drug interactions and with more efficacies.
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Contributors to this Article:
Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; and Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry
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