Shire has rolled out its long-acting attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Intuniv across the UK, extending treatment options for patients aged six to 17 years old in whom stimulant medicines are not suitable or are ineffective.

Intuniv (guanfacine) is a selective alpha-2A adrenergic receptor agonist that offers a unique mechanism of action in ADHD. 

Preclinical studies suggest that the drug may exert physiological effects by selectively stimulating the alpha-2A adrenergic receptor in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain known to control several cognitive functions including attention and social behaviours.

Intuniv prolonger release bagged European approval in September last year, on the back of data from three pivotal Phase III studies investigating its short- and long-term safety and efficacy in the target patient population.

In the UK, ADHD is estimated to affect 3%-9% of school-age children and young people but, in Europe, more than 10% of all patients either do not respond to or tolerate treatment with stimulants. Atomoxetine is the only other non-stimulant treatment currently available in Europe, so the launch of Intuniv will offer patients an approved alternative for the first time.

“The availability of the new non-stimulant, guanfacine prolonged release tablets, may represent an important alternative treatment option, enabling physicians to tailor ADHD therapy to those patients for whom stimulants are not suitable,” noted Chris Steer, consultant paediatrician, NHS Fife.

The drug has already cleared the cost-effectiveness hurdle in Scotland, having been accepted for use on the NHS by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.