Adderall Knockoffs Are Unapproved, Potentially Dangerous, Experts Say


Supplements Touted as Prescription-Strength Study Aids

The reformulated, Adderall-like pills are also advertised on college campuses across the country. ADDTabz, made by Gentech Pharmaceuticals, went on a marketing blitz last fall, which led to campus coverage from the University of Central Florida to Ohio State University.

Harvard's student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, got flack last September for running an advertisement for ADDTabz in their student-run publication.

Another Adderall knock-off, AdderRx, made by NexGen Pharmaceuticals, had brand representatives hand out free samples of the pills at 10 universities, including the University of Florida, Penn State University and Arizona State University.

Anthony Sirianni, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Florida, said one of his friends received several free samples of AdderRx on campus and gave him a pill. He took the bright orange tablet after waking up exhausted before a road trip.

He said he felt fine as he started driving but developed symtoms over time.

"My heart was beating really fast. I felt hot, and I sweated a lot even though I wasn't outside," Sirianni said. "It was like jitteriness, uneasiness, and I felt worried for no reason. I didn't know what was wrong; I didn't want to interact with people. I just wanted to sit and ride it out."

Sirianni has not been diagnosed with ADHD, which may be why he experienced apparent side effects, according to Dr. Rachel Klein, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University.

Klein said when Adderall or amphetamine-containing substances are given therapeutically to those with ADHD, those patients often experience a subtle decrease in energy that can help them perform day-to-day tasks.

"They'll exhibit more appropriate behavior, be less impulsive, less impatient, less hyperactive," Klein said. "It doesn't do this to people who don't have ADHD. You won't feel lethargic if you take it -- if anything you'll feel more stimulated."

That stimulation sensation can lead to the faster heart rate and uneasiness Sirianni experienced, but Klein said long term use of Adderall-like stimulants by those who don't have ADHD could lead to more serious psychological side effects.

She said these effects hinge on how much you take and how often you take prescription-grade amphetamines, and if you have an underlying psychological issue you may not be aware of.

"If you keep taking it at high doses, you can develop psychotic symptoms," Klein said. "These could include being suspicious of everyone, thinking things around you have special significance. You feel like you're in some sort of danger, or delusional like people are against you and want to hurt you."

But Headley with Gentech Pharmaceuticals said his company reformulated the ingredients found in Adderall to try to eliminate most of these side effects.

"We're sort of playing off of [Adderall's ingredients] for something that is safer and cleaner without the side effects," Headley said.

The amphetamine-like substance in ADDTabz, called Ampheta CDP, can't be found in medical literature or in Google searches, mainly because Gentech invented the compound. AdderRx uses a compound called Nuphetamine HCM, another ingredient that can't be found in medical resources or internet searches. The only information the company said about the ingredient in AdderRx is that it has "a chemical structure similar to the naturally occurring adrenaline and noradrenaline."

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