Immediate release Ritalin, which contains the drug called methylphenidate, lasts for three to six hours, typically peaking at approximately two hours after dosing. According to the Family Practice Notebook, the length of time methylphenidate's effects last depend on the formulation in which it is delivered.
The Family Practice Notebook states that methylphenidate is also available in long-acting and very long-acting formulations. The Ritalin brand also comes in a formulation that has a duration of eight hours, utilizing biphasic release to make 50 percent of the drug available immediately and 50 percent available through modified release beads. Other brands, such as Concerta, last for up to 12 hours.