A nationwide shortage of ADHD medications has persisted for nearly a year, with federal agencies and drug manufacturers at odds over its causes and solutions. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulates the amphetamines used to produce stimulant ADHD medications, claiming that pharmaceutical companies have sufficient raw ingredients. However, drugmakers dispute this, stating that they’ve exhausted their ingredient supplies and need the DEA’s permission to acquire more.
The shortage has affected various ADHD medications, including Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin, Vyvanse, and their generic equivalents. Experts predict that the shortage may continue through the end of the year, with the return to school increasing the demand for these prescriptions.
Doctors and patients have expressed frustration, with some patients resorting to driving long distances to find available medications. For many individuals, the shortage has strained relationships and had negative impacts on work, daily life, and mental health.
The DEA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recognized the shortage and cited factors such as a surge in demand, pandemic-era telehealth prescriptions, and drug manufacturers not utilizing their full ingredient quotas as contributing factors. The agencies called on manufacturers to return unused amphetamine to the DEA, which could then redistribute it.
While the DEA reports unused amphetamine in drug manufacturers’ quotas, companies are not required to disclose their inventory. Companies have requested increased quotas from the DEA, but some have not received responses, which has halted their production.
Open Discussions Shed Light on the Impact of Medication Shortages
Experts suggest that the issue could be resolved when supply aligns with demand. However, until the DEA and manufacturers can communicate more effectively about individual supply and capacity, the problem may persist.
To address the shortage, some experts recommend stabilizing demand through changes to telehealth prescriptions. Telehealth prescriptions have contributed to the surge in demand, but they are set to end for first-time prescriptions in November. While this change may help align supply and demand, it could create challenges for individuals in rural areas or those with limited access to in-person healthcare.
Despite potential changes, experts believe the ADHD medication shortage may continue into the fall and potentially extend through the end of the year. Patients have resorted to various coping strategies, including altering doses, splitting pills, or turning to caffeine. The shortage has prompted many to openly discuss their struggles to obtain medication, highlighting the profound impact it has had on their lives.