A nationwide shortage of Adderall, the drug commonly prescribed for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), has dragged on since last October, and the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t been able to catch up.
Millions of children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and the number of them who take Adderall to help them stay focused in the classroom has grown in recent years.
“These medications are very necessary and can really affect a child’s performance and attendance at school,” Dr. Sujatha Reddy said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration blames manufacturing delays for the shortage as demand increased significantly during and after the pandemic.
Also, because ADHD medications are considered controlled substances, the FDA and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration set a limit on how much medicine can be manufactured annually.
There are now calls for the agencies to raise those limits.
Patients have tried to find alternative medications, such as Ritalin, however, even substitutes and generic brands are in short supply.
“Ask your physician to try an alternative medicine at least for the time being. Medicines like Vyvanse, Mydayis and Concerta are all excellent and likely to be in stock at the local pharmacy,” Dr. Russell Surasky said.
A letter from the FDA to Americans addressing the Adderall shortage says in part, “We are working closely with numerous manufacturers, agencies, and others in the supply chain to understand, prevent and reduce the impact of these shortages.”
“These medicines are critical and not just for kids in school but really across all age groups,” Surasky said.
There has been concern about middle and high school students misusing Adderall and similar drugs. A study earlier this year found that 1 in 4 students had used the drug without a prescription to help improve their academic performance.
But experts say misuse of the drug isn’t really contributing to the shortage. It’s mainly a manufacturing issue.