Pfizer is making its first foray into the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder arena in the USA with the launch of Quillivant XR.

The drug is the first once-daily, extended-release liquid version of methylphenidate for ADHD. The US Food and Drug Administration approved Quillivant XR at the end of September and Pfizer completed its acquisition of NextWave Pharmaceuticals, the developer of the treatment (along with Tris Pharma), shortly after.

Although there are many treatment options for ADHD, a liquid version of methylphenidate is intended to make administration easier, especially for children, where swallowing medicine can be easier than taking a tablet. The efficacy of Quillivant XR was evaluated in a study of 45 children and the data showed that it significantly improved ADHD symptoms compared to placebo at the primary endpoint of four hours post-dose; in a secondary analysis, Quillivant XR showed significant improvement at every time point measured, from 45 minutes to 12 hours after dosing.

Pfizer quoted Ann Childress, president of the Center for Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine in Las Vegas and an investigator in the aforementioned study, said "it is important to consider individual patient needs, including options for medication administration". She added that “as the first once-daily, extended-release liquid medication for patients with ADHD, Quillivant XR represents a new alternative”.

Sam Azoulay, head of medical and development for Pfizer’s Emerging Markets and Established Products Business Units, added that "we also recognise that caring for and treating a child with ADHD goes beyond medication", saying the firm will provide "meaningful resources to the ADHD community". Quillivant XR is classed as a federally controlled substance because it can be abused or lead to dependence.

Pfizer rumoured to be acquiring Agila

Meantime, Bloomberg has reported that Pfizer is weighing up a bid to buy Agila Specialties, the injectables unit of India's Strides Arcolab.

The news agency cited three people "with knowledge of the matter" that Pfizer is doing due diligence on Agila, which is being valued at around $2 billion, The unit specialises in cancer treatments and antibiotics,