Safer Driving as a Rx Side Effect?

Vyvanse may improve driving safety for young adults with ADHD

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) ADHD in teens and young adults has been linked to unsafe driving. Many medications can be used to help with symptoms of ADHD, and safer driving may be a good “side effect.” 

People of driving age with ADHD are more likely to have traffic tickets and accidents.

Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate), a long-acting stimulant used in the treatment of ADHD, now shows promise that it may also help improve driving safety for young adults with ADHD.

"Discuss risks and benefits of ADHD medications with your doctor."

A recent study headed by Joseph Biederman, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, asked 61 young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 who had ADHD to do a driving test in a simulator. Then they were given either Vyvanse or placebo for six weeks.

After six weeks, they were tested in the driving simulator again. The group taking Vyvanse showed improved safety while driving in the simulator.

The people taking Vyvanse responded 9 percent faster when they were presented with a surprise event. They also had 67 percent fewer collisions in the simulator.

Together, the researchers conclude that this shows that Vyvanse not only improves symptoms of ADHD but also improves driving safety in young adults with ADHD.

dailyRx spoke with Gina Pera, author and advocate for ADHD, about the findings of Dr. Biederman’s study. 

She said, “This study, conducted by highly respected ADHD researchers, is important because it looks at young adults (as opposed to teens, the subject of most other research) and because it highlights the importance of extended medication coverage.“

Pera says that extended release medications, like Vyvanse, improve driving safety is important because they are able to offer benefits during rush hour “drive times”. Quick release medications may help with driving safety, but it may not be working in the morning or may wear off by evening.

When asked about the use of a simulator as a reflection of real world driving, Pera stated:  “Some studies have used real-life driving tests and shown similar results. These studies are more limited for obvious reasons.”

Driving simulators seem to be a good parallel to real world driving, while being safer for the participants and the researchers.

Vyvanse is marketed by Shire US, Inc and costs approximately $130 per month.

Dr. Biederman’s study was published in the April issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research. The study was funded by Shire US, Inc., but the paper notes that Shire had no role in the design of the study, collection of data, or writing of the report.

The authors of this paper report financial affiliations with multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Shire, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, and Janssen.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 10, 2012
Last Updated:
October 2, 2012