Compare Adderall vs. Adderall XR: Uses, Side Effects, Cost

Written by Rebecca Farley | Reviewed by a licensed U.S. pharmacist | Posted March 08, 2021

Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts combo) has been around long enough to have a few duplicates on the market, Adderall XR included. In general, after drugmakers debut a medication, they begin to develop newer, slightly tricked-up versions of that medication. (Drug pricing advocates call this process “evergreening” because it keeps the patents — and therefore the profits — evergreen.) For many drugs, this results in the debut of an “extended-release” medication. Extended-release medications may earn the suffix “XR” or “ER,” both indicating that the drug lasts for a prolonged period of time.

The FDA first approved Adderall (amphetamine salts combo) in 1999, with Adderall XR earning its approval in 2001. Both Adderall and Adderall XR have generic equivalents; the FDA approved amphetamine salts combo XR in 2016

What is the difference between Adderall XR and Adderall IR?

Adderall XR is an “extended-release” tablet while Adderall IR could be considered “immediate release.” The names mean what they indicate: XR uses a complex delivery system to get the drug’s active ingredients into your bloodstream slowly and steadily over a long (extended!) period of time. IR releases the active ingredient directly into the bloodstream. IR medications usually have a more potent effect for a shorter period of time. In the case of Adderall IR, patients take a 10mg tablet twice daily. Adderall XR is 50% IR medication and 50% XR medication, with the latter releasing four hours after the tablet is consumed. Patients usually take 20mg tablets once a day (in the morning) and enjoy the medication’s effects all day. 

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How long does Adderall XR work?

Adderall XR lasts up to twelve hours and sometimes beyond, it will take about 30 minutes to an hour for it to start working.

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Is Adderall XR or Vyvanse better?

Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) is a slightly newer medication with a few more tricks up its sleeve. It lasts longer and ostensibly has fewer side effects; it is Adderall XR without the necessary extended-release mechanism. With that, of course, comes a price: Vyvanse is more expensive than Adderall, as it does not have a generic alternative. 

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Is 10mg Adderall XR enough?

The traditional dosage of Adderall XR is 20mg. Talk to your doctor before lowering the dosage. 

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What are the side effects of Adderall XR? 

The drug’s label lists the following side effects

  • Loss of appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Abdominal pain

  • Emotional lability

  • Vomiting

  • Nervousness

  • Nausea

  • Fever 

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Which is cheaper: Adderall XR or Vyvanse? 

Adderall XR is much cheaper than Vyvanse, given that it has a generic alternative and has been on the market longer. The cheapest long-acting treatment is generic amphetamine salts combo XR, which is just $42.55 for thirty (roughly a month’s worth) tablets with the U.S. Discount Card. 

Comparing Adderall XR vs Vyvanse Prices 

Drug Strength Quantity U.S. Retail Price  U.S. Discount Card Price Greatest Percentage Discount 
Adderall XR (Amphetamine salts combo) 5 mg  30 tablets $283.75 $217.09  24%
Amphetamine Salts Combo XR (generic) 5 mg 30 tablets $178.63 $42.55 76%
Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) 10 mg 30 tablets $352.50  $337.03 4%

U.S. Discount Card price according to pharmacy prices near the zip code 10605. Average retail prices according to GoodRx and 

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Where is Adderall XR manufactured? 

Adderall XR sold in the U.S. is manufactured in Wayne County, PA.

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