ADHD drug shows promise for treating dyslexia

Researchers find that attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder drug atomoxetine could benefit children with dyslexia.

Boy staring at an open page book

Interventions to improve dyslexia in older children and adolescents have relatively low success rates. However, recent evidence has indicated that drugs used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as atomoxetine, might be beneficial.

In a study, 209 children (aged 10–16 years) with dyslexia only, 124 children with ADHD and dyslexia (ADHD+D) and 27 children with ADHD only were randomly assigned to receive atomoxetine or placebo daily for 16 weeks.

The researchers found that reading scores significantly improved from baseline in children with dyslexia only or ADHD+D who received atomoxetine, compared with those who received placebo. Improvements in reading scores did not correlate with ADHD symptoms in the ADHD+D group, suggesting it was not solely down to improved ADHD inattention symptoms.

Reporting in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
(2017;27(1):19-28), the researchers say the findings indicate that atomoxetine could be a useful adjunct to existing dyslexia treatments.


[1] Shaywitz S, Shaywitz B, Wietecha L et al. Effect of atomoxetine treatment on reading and phonological skills in children with dyslexia or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and comorbid dyslexia in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol 2017;27(1):19-28. doi: 10.1089/cap.2015.0189

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, May 2017, Vol 9, No 5;9(5):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202584

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