By: Benjamin Zirman  | 

Israeli Tech: If I Can Have Your Attention For Just A Moment

Do you have trouble paying attention, have hyperactivity, or suffer from impulsivity? Well you very well might have ADHD. Not to worry though, more than 11 percent of American children also suffer from ADHD according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, about 4 percent of American adults deal with ADHD every day. These numbers are on the rise as there have been 42 percent more diagnoses over the past 8 years. An Israeli startup company called Alcobra has an innovative new ADHD drug called Metadoxine Extended Release (MDX) that will take the market by storm when it comes out later this year.

Alcobra is an Israeli startup company started in 2008 and headquartered in Tel Aviv. The CEO and President is Dr. Yaron Daniely. Daniely spent his early years in Tel Aviv before moving to Florida and continuing on to NYU School of Medicine where he received a Ph.D. He also got an MBA from the Technion in Israel. He has been the CEO and President since 2008 and has totally changed the company. Alcobra actually developed the drug for ADHD by accident. The company was founded by Dr. Dalia Megiddo and Udi Gilboa to work on developing metadoxine, in order to create a pill that would prevent alcohol from affecting the brain. It was supposed to quickly reduce blood levels so people could get behind the wheel and drive shortly after drinking. The results showed that the drug had no impact on lowering blood-alcohol levels but it had a surprisingly big impact on cognitive ability. “In driving, memory, and attention tests that were conducted, it was as though those people were not drunk, despite the fact that, in terms of the amount of alcohol in their blood, it was not clear that they would be able to stand on their own two feet. So the idea to treat Attention Deficit Disorder came about” said current CEO and President Yaron Daniely. Alcobra has become one of the hottest companies since then with their new focus and concentration on ADHD.

Almost 5% of adults around the world have ADHD but many more adults remain undiagnosed and untreated. The most common products on the market now can be divided into two categories: stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta and the non stimulant drugs such as Straterra. There are problems with both types of ADHD medication. Between 30 to 50 percent of those who take stimulants for ADHD either do not respond to or do not tolerate the treatments. Additionally, stimulants have many negative side effects including uncomfortable mental states, interference with sleep and appetite, development of nervous ticks and increased blood pressure. Even more scary is the high likelihood of abuse as these drugs are controlled substances. Therefore, the drug market has been leaning towards non-stimulants but unfortunately they have been not nearly as effective in dealing with the symptoms. The only FDA approved non-stimulant, Straterra, also brings with it side effects sleepiness, headache, abdominal pain or upset stomach, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, mood swings, and uptakes of suicidal thoughts. The current market options clearly all have their downsides and the platform is set for a game changing drug to be developed.

While Alcobra has developed MDX as a non-stimulant pill, tests results show that it is twice as effective as regular non-stimulant drugs and as effective as stimulant drugs. Even better, no side effects beside slight nausea have been reported by users. MDX has multiple applications to other CNS disorders including the rare Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). Fragile X Syndrome is a genetic condition that causes learning disabilities and cognitive impairment. The FDA has already approved use of the drug to treat Fragile X Syndrome. MDX for ADHD is in its final stages of testing and should be approved by the FDA in the upcoming months.

From this writer’s point of view, Alcobra is an exciting company, both because of what they’ve been able to accomplish and for MDX’s potential. Although they started as a small Israeli startup, they have been able to scale to the United States’ market and compete with pre-existing companies there. Additionally, they have gathered a board of directors consisting of renowned doctors and scientists that will help the company immensely as they continue to test their product. I expect Alcobra to take up a large share of the current 4 billion dollar market that exists for ADHD medication. The stock currently closed at 6.28 dollars and I expect that number to skyrocket once the company completes testing and receives FDA approval for MDX. Alcobra’s revolutionary pill is right around the corner, and with it may come a solution to the growing epidemic of ADHD.