Concerta Generics – Do They Work?

My son has ADHD. He was diagnosed when he was in Kindergarten. I know there is a lot of stigma (still) around ADHD and a lot of people don’t understand it; or they ignorantly think a parent is being lazy with their kids and that’s why they are the way they are; or my personal favorite, we parents claim our kids are ADHD just so they can get medications to make them calmer. Oh how I wish all of those things were true. Well, maybe not the lazy part. I don’t like being called lazy! Any parent with a child with ADHD knows how important it is when you find a medication that works. The worst thing is when it either stops working, or you can no longer take it for insurance purposes. This happened to us recently when we realized that not all Concerta generics are created equally.

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Concerta Generics – Do They Work the Same?

For years, my son took Concerta. Our insurance paid for the name brand, and that’s what he took. Then, if I understand the history correctly, Concerta worked a deal out with another company to make authorized Concerta generics. He was switched to that with no problems at all. From all of my research, the authorized Concerta generic was basically the EXACT same thing as name brand Concerta. However, everything started to seem like it was going downhill and the medication was no longer working. What happened? How could something that was working, not work anymore? And how can it happen seemingly overnight?

One day I picked up his prescription and the pharmacist let me know that the pill may look different because they switched manufacturers. To be honest, I didn’t think anything of it. I told her thank you and went about my day. Fast forward several months. As I said, things started going downhill. I talked with his doctor and we agreed to try a different medication. This is something NO parent of a child with ADHD wants to do, especially during the school year, but we had no choice. I’d love to say this med change worked, but it didn’t. What the heck happened with his Concerta?

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Not All Generics Are 100% the Same

While the Concerta generics are chemically the same as the name brand drug, they lack the time release delivery system that is unique to Concerta. Remember how I told you Concerta worked out a deal with another company to make an authorized generic? Well, that authorized generic utilized the time release delivery system that is unique to Concerta. So, for my son, it worked just the same as the name brand Concerta. The other Concerta generics…not so much. When the pharmacy switched to the other manufacturer, my son went from having the time release delivery system he needed to literally metabolizing the medication by mid-morning. Ability to focus, went downhill; impulse control, went downhill; everything that was working so well for him, suddenly failed him.

Unfortunately, we are back to trying another medication, however this new medication is in the same family as Concerta. I was not willing to give Adderall a try again after our horrible experience with it. Today is our first day with the new medication. So far so good. Why couldn’t we just get name brand Concerta? With our insurance, if there is a generic available, but we choose the name brand, we have to pay $100 just to have that name brand and then whatever the cost of the medication is. So in this instance, if we wanted name brand Concerta, it was going to cost us $285 a month. Since that is pure insanity, we will give something else a try first, before we commit to that price!

What to do When Generics Don’t Work

After doing a ton of research and finding out that the Janssen/Actavis contract Concerta had for the authorized generic ran out, I began to find out more and more about these so called “Concerta generics”. As soon as that contract ran out, three new generics popped up. Those three manufacturers of the new generics to be on the look for (that do not have ANY good reviews) are:

  1. Trigen Laboratories
  2. Mylan (same company that jacked up the prices of the Epi-pen and were sued)
  3. Impax Laboratories

The manufacturer of the Concerta generic that my son was switched to was by Mylan. Be sure to do your research. Some pharmacies may still have some stock of the Janssen/Actavis Concerta left over, but eventually you will be switched to a different generic as they will no longer be able to get the authorized Concerta generic back. One way to know if your Concerta has the time release delivery system (OROS) that is unique to Concerta is that the pill will be stamped with “Alza”.

We are crossing our fingers that this new medication works for him. Hopefully this article helps you. If your child’s medication seems like it hasn’t been working AND you were switched to a new generic, consider filling out the FDA MedWatch Voluntary Report form online.


  1. I assumed all generic brands of a name brand would be the same and didn’t realize that the time-release delivery system could be different. I hope your child does well on his new medication.

  2. Hope for all of you this new medication works. Wish they wouldn’t label people at all.

    • I’m OK with the label. In my eyes, it’s no different that if my child had diabetes. I would treat that with the appropriate medication. I think the issue with a label is when people categorize whether something is OK or not. You know?

  3. Very informative post, as a teacher we know how difficult it can be to have a student change medications mid-school year. Your son is very lucky to have a mom like you that researches and fights for him. #greatmom

  4. I had ADD when I was a child although I was not hyper. My big problem was organization and concentration. My son I’m afraid is starting to suffer too. If I need to I will definitely give him something to help him concentrate. This is a great post to help with that.

  5. Interesting. My son has ADHD and he takes Vyvanse, which helps him a lot. He did try Concerta, but it turned him into a zombie so I stopped that really fast.

    • Thankfully we have not had the “zombie” issue, but I hear that happening with some so often. A friend of mine has her son on Vyvanse. We haven’t tried that one yet. I’m really hoping this new one works and we don’t have to switch, but I am starting to research all the different options…just in case.

  6. Anita Anderson says:

    I agree with you a 100% not all generics are the same. I had a similar issue happen with the Depo Shot. I was given the generic and my body did not tolerate it. I had to stop it all together as the insurance company would not pay for the name brand.

  7. I agree that meds are all different regardless if they were made to treat the same ailments and what-not. It’s really nice that you did your own research and that you’re sharing this information so other parents can watch out for these medications.

  8. I’ve never heard of this. I hope it works for your kid as I imagine it can be difficult trying so many things trying to find something that works.

  9. Bonnie G says:

    I am all too familiar with concerta and other medications for ADHD. I have 3 kiddos on medication for it. Thanks for sharing this information.

  10. I was not aware of this and I think it’s good that you’re sharing this for everyone to read. It pays to do your own research because you learn so much of what’s good for you or your family.

  11. Ok, I really hope my child doesnt have ADD but if she has/or did etc, then I would look into this product.

  12. So interesting. I though generic was always the same thing too! Thank you.

  13. My son recently was diagnosed and prescribed concerta and was given the generic. We are still in the first month dosing it out and getting what is needed info wise for the doc. My grandfather was a master chemist in his life and swore by the generic alternative. I will ask my sons doc about this.

  14. Thank you for sharing this information, really. So many people out there can be quite misinformed about this.

  15. Gemille Sleweon says:

    This post was very informative. I have some members in my family wish ADHD and my boyfriend has ADHD, and although he was diagnosed as an adult, he still raked medication from time to time to help him. I wish there wasn’t a stigma attached to people with ADHD, so it can be easier for people to get the help that they need.

  16. Reesa Lewandowski says:

    Interesting, I never thought about generics not working the same before!

  17. This exact same thing happened to us – my insurance company used to pay for the name brand Concerta, then decided that they wouldn’t any longer and we had to switch to the generic. My son’s doctor wrote a letter explaining that it had taken us two years of trial and error to FIND the appropriate meds for him and this change basically caused us to start all over. The insurance company agreed to go back to paying for the name brand IF we kept him on the generic for awhile to prove that it wasn’t working. I just don’t understand when insurance companies started making all the decisions that doctors should be making about what to prescribe 🙁 I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through this!

  18. Oh 100000%! It’s so weird to me when I buy generic versions of some things and they just don’t have the same UMPH despite them legit having the SAME INGREDIENTS!!!! It will forever baffle me and also kind of scare me honestly because clearly someone is not telling us something!

  19. That would probably explain why my son always had to have a second dose afternoon pill. His generic ER would wear off by 3pm when it worked fine for several years. Now he’s on max dose of Adderall because his body got to used to all the other meds. With the exception of Vyvanse which he can’t try because it’s too dang expensive.

  20. Michelle says:

    I got a generic version by AMN and it is horrible. They are little round pills. My stomach is making awful noises and my head feels foggy. I will have tomswitch medicine to another type rather than waste my money on this version. I’d been taking the generic with Alza printed on the pill previously and that worked great.

    • I’m sorry to hear that. It’s such a shame that this type of thing is not regulated better and it’s even a bigger shame that we can’t get the name brand without paying an arm and a leg for it.

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