Methylphenidate hydrochloride (or just methylphenidate) is a "stimulant" that is used to promote wakefulness and to reduce excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).
Methylphenidate is usually supplied as a tablet or capsule. Methylphenidate is widely used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and is not licensed for the treatment of narcolepsy, but is nonetheless considered to be effective in increasing wakefulness and so is often used by specialist physicians for the treatment of EDS.
Methylphenidate is manufactured by several different pharmaceutical companies and has been sold under numerous different brand names, of which Ritalin is the best known. There should be no difference in the efficacy of these different versions of the drug, except that some forms of methylphenidate are intended to prolong the effect of the drug. Using these will mean that the effect of the drug is spread more evenly through the day and you will need to take the drug less frequently, perhaps only once each day, rather than twice or more. These "extended release" or "controlled release" forms of methylphenidate may have names that include the letters ER, XR, CR or sometimes XL. Methylphenidate tablets or capsules have various strengths. In general, the extended release forms of the drug contain a higher dose, perhaps a whole daily dose in one tablet, whereas the ordinary tablets contain much less drug and are generally taken more than once each day.
Methylphenidate is a Schedule 2 Controlled Drug, which means that you may be required to prove your identity when collecting your prescription and you must store the drug securely.
SIDE-EFFECTS - As with any medication, the drugs used to treat narcolepsy can have side-effects. These can take many forms. They may be relatively minor, such as mild headaches or a dry mouth, or much more serious, such as anxiety or depression. You should check the Patient Information Leaflet in the packaging of your medication for more details and if you experience any of these side-effects you should consult your doctor.