Qelbree Review: Do Nonstimulant ADHD Meds Work?

Qelbree Review: Do Nonstimulant ADHD Meds Work?


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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to prescription medication.

Qelbree is a prescription medication that's FDA-approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s non-stimulatory, which separates it from other ADHD medications like Adderall which are stimulants.

The generic name for the drug is viloxazine, and we’ll use these two terms interchangeably throughout this article because they refer to the same active drug ingredient.

But is Qelbree actually proven in clinical trials to reduce symptoms of ADHD? Is the drug as effective as stimulant ADHD medications? Does it cause any concerning side effects? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Qelbree?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we review clinical trials on Qelbree to determine how effective the drug is, how it compares to other commonly-prescribed ADHD medications, document its side effects and share real, unsponsored user reviews of Qelbree.

How Effective is Qelbree for Treating ADHD?

Qelbree has been extensively studied in clinical trials for its efficacy in treating and managing symptoms of ADHD. 

A meta-study published in the Frontiers in Psychiatry journal examined results from 30 clinical trials on the drug. In all of the studies reviewed, Qelbree was effective at reducing ADHD symptoms.

The study authors concluded that Qelbree was effective, and suggested that the drug may be especially therapeutic for patients with other mental health conditions such as anxiety, because these patients may not be able to tolerate stimulant ADHD meds.

A more recent medical review, published in 2022, examined data from over 1,600 patients involved in clinical trials on Qelbree. The group treated with Qelbree had 62% more responders than the group treated with placebo pills. Responders in a medical context refers to patients who have a significant improvement in their symptoms.

The researchers conducting this second meta-study concluded that Qelbree was “significantly superior” to placebo.

Overall we will conclude based on the available research that Qelbree is effective for treating ADHD.

Qelbree Side Effects

Qelbree black box warning

Qelbree’s FDA label has a "black box" warning, shown above, indicating that this medication can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in pediatric (children) patients.

Black box warnings are the most severe type of warning issued by the FDA, and they indicate a side effect which may have life-threatening side effects.

Qelbree's typical side effects are more mild. StatPearls, which is a free medical database maintained by the U.S. government, documents that the most common side effects are sleepiness, fatigue, decreased appetite and nausea.

The side effect profile of Qelbree appears relatively mild for adults, but given the suicide warning for pediatric patients it may be advisable for parents or guardians to speak with their child's doctor about alternative ADHD medications which do not confer this risk.

Real, Unsponsored Qelbree User Review

A TikTok user named "a_therapist_in_pain" reviewed Qelbree and explains why she doesn't like it after her first day:

@a_therapist_in_pain Trying Qelbree as an add on med for ADHD #qelbree #adhd #adhdmedication #adhdtherapist ♬ original sound - Kelly Redmon

Is Qelbree More Effective Than Adderall and Strattera?

Adderall and Strattera are two of the most commonly-prescribed ADHD medications, so patients are often curious about whether Qelbree has been shown to be more or less effective than these drugs.

Unfortunately, at the time of updating this article, there do not appear to be any comparative studies on the efficacy of Qelbree versus other ADHD medications.

Qelbree was only approved by the FDA in 2021, which is recent, so we would expect such comparative studies (which are common for drugs in the same class) to emerge in the coming years, and we will update this article when and if they do.

As we documented in our Strattera reviews article, that drug is not a stimulant either, so Strattera and Qelbree may be better options than Adderall for patients with anxiety.

Adderall is a stimulant that was actually found in a medical review to be associated with a reduced risk of suicide in patients with ADHD, so Adderall may be a better option for patients with a personal or family history of suicidal thoughts than Qelbree, and for patients without anxiety.

How Much Does Qelbree Cost?

The cost of Qelbree will depend on health insurance coverage for U.S. patients. According to SingleCare, the average retail price of Qelbree is currently $391.02, so this is what patients without health insurance can expect to pay.

The official Qelbree website has a Savings page that allows patients to apply for a coupon and potentially "Pay as little as $20 per prescription."

We typically recommend that patients speak with their doctor about the generic versions of drugs, because these contain the same active drug ingredient as the brand-name version but can be significantly cheaper. However, since Qelbree was approved by the FDA so recently there is currently no generic equivalent available on the U.S. market.

Real Qelbree Patient Reviews

Qelbree has been reviewed 11 times on Drugs.com at the time of updating this article, which is an online resource where patients can publish personal reviews and rate pharmaceutical drugs they're taking.

The average user rating is only 4.8 out of 10 which is relatively low.

The top positive review is written by a user named “Game Changer” who claims that the drug significantly improved their ADHD symptoms:

“I’m on 400mg and honestly - WHAT A GAME CHANGER. I can go to sleep at night without racing thoughts, get up and get the clan ready without losing my keys, I have much more patience with my students, and have the ability to focus on which sports event and where I need to be and when In the evening. I’m thrilled!”

The top negative review comes from a user named “ADHD/Anxiety” who published a review on behalf of their child. This reviewer claims the medication caused significant side effects in their child:

“We were so excited to try Qelbree. But by day three we had to stop, as it made him physically and verbally violent. We almost called 911 at one point...and he is only 9 years old.

Can an OTC Supplement Treat ADHD?

Patients are often curious about whether there are research-backed over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for ADHD.

Ginkgo biloba extract is an herbal supplement with proven nootropic function. This means it can increase cognition and concentration short-term.

clinical trial published in 2014 found that ginkgo biloba extract was effective for children diagnosed with ADHD. Supplementation with ginkgo biloba extract improved ADHD core symptoms and quality of life. 

A separate clinical trial published in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice journal found that ginkgo biloba extract may be an effective adjunctive therapy to standard pharmaceutical ADHD treatment. An adjunctive therapy means a therapy used in combination with standard treatment.

Inattention scores (a common symptom of ADHD) were significantly decreased with ginkgo biloba extract complementary therapy. Total ADHD symptom score was also significantly decreased.

Illuminate Labs sells a ginkgo biloba extract supplement which is third-party tested to ensure label accuracy, potency and purity, and which contains no questionable additive ingredients.

We are not suggesting that ginkgo biloba extract is effective as a standalone ADHD treatment, or that it’s as effective as Qelbree. We’re simply sharing some promising early research on the compound. Patients may benefit from speaking with their doctor about the potential for ginkgo biloba extract to be a supportive ADHD treatment.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Qelbree is effective for treating ADHD in both adults and children. The drug's side effects appear to be more severe in children, as Qelbree's FDA label has a black box warning related to the risk of increased suicidal thoughts in children.

This medication is non-stimulatory, so it may be a better option for patients with anxiety than stimulant ADHD meds like Adderall.

Qelbree was recently approved in the U.S., so there is not currently a generic equivalent available.

The user ratings for Qelbree are somewhat negative on Drugs.com, but there are few ratings overall so it's a small sample size.




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