It's Not Just Adderall—These Medications Are Also Facing Shortages Now
More popular ADHD prescriptions are becoming harder to fill.
Shortages have hit nearly every sector since the start of the pandemic. And as much as the overall situation has improved, 2023 is still saddled with its fair share of supply chain issues. We've seen grocery staples like eggs become harder to find, while patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have struggled to fill their Adderall prescription. As it turns out, that's not the only pill now suffering from supply strains. Read on to learn more about that latest drug shortages.
The FDA first announced the Adderall shortage a few months ago.
Patients started speaking out about how they couldn't get their Adderall prescriptions filled in summer 2022, but it wasn't until a few months later that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially confirmed the problem. The agency announced on Oct. 12 that it had added the immediate release formulation of amphetamine mixed salts—otherwise known by the brand name Adderall or Adderall IR—to its Drug Shortages list.
"FDA is in frequent communication with all manufacturers of amphetamine mixed salts, and one of those companies, Teva, is experiencing ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays," the agency said. "Other manufacturers continue to produce amphetamine mixed salts, but there is not sufficient supply to continue to meet U.S. market demand through those producers."
As of Jan. 30, the drug still has a status of "currently in shortage," according to the FDA's database. Despite there being some varieties available from different manufacturers, the agency indicates that certain dosages of Adderall could be hard to come by until at least mid-April 2023.
Unfortunately for those who take medication for ADHD, that's not the only prescription they might have trouble filling.
Another widely prescribed ADHD drug is in trouble.
Adderall is one of the most popular medications prescribed to treat ADHD, but it's not the only one. Doctors sometimes also prescribe methylphenidate stimulants to treat ADHD, with Ritalin and Concerta being two of the most popular brand name medications in this category. But on Jan. 10, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) warned that a variety of methylphenidate drugs are also now facing "current drug shortages."
Ritalin is manufactured by Novartis, and a spokesperson for this company told Bloomberg in early January that one dose of the medication was facing a "temporary interruption" in availability due to delays with the drug's packaging. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson—whose company Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. produces Concerta—told the news outlet that while its medication is available, the company is "aware of some challenges in the market."
The FDA has not confirmed a shortage of either of these medications.
Neither Ritalin nor Concerta are currently on the FDA's drug shortages list, and the agency has not indicated that there is any issue with methylphenidate supply overall. But several patients have said their pharmacies did not have their methylphenidate prescriptions in stock recently, Bloomberg reported.
Madi Hawes, a 20-year-old student at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, told the news outlet that when she went to her school's health center to pick up her prescription for Concerta, the pharmacy only had seven Concerta pills available for her—and not the 30 she was actually prescribed. "They weren't going to have anything else until March," Hawes said.
Fraser Engerman, a spokesperson for Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., told Bloomberg that Walgreens is continuing to "see some intermittent supply issues" with methylphenidate mediations. And the healthcare company Kaiser Permanente told the outlet that its pharmacies are experiencing delays in receiving several ADHD medications as well.
"We do not know when this situation will resolve as demand nationally continues to outpace the supply of these medications," Kaiser spokesperson Marc Brown said.
Some patients switched to Ritalin and Concerta when Adderall became harder to find.
Amid the Adderall shortage, some patients were directed to talk to their doctor about switching to similar ADHD-treating stimulants like Ritalin and Concerta. But Chris Borden, owner of Borden Family Pharmacy in Cullman, Alabama, recently told The Cullman Times that this switch—along with the recent increased demand for Adderall—is part of what's causing shortages for these stimulant medications as well.
"One of the idiosyncrasies of the FDA when it comes to stimulant medications like this, is that they will give manufacturers a certain quota on how much they can produce in a year," Borden explained. "If demand shoots up part of the way through the year, and they've already met that quota, they can't make anymore."
Erin Fox, PharmD, the senior pharmacy director at Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health and a pharmacy professor at the university who helps run the ASHP's drug shortage website, told Becker's Hospital Review that companies should be discussing what they can do to "increase production and prevent shortages" when heightened demand arises—like what we've recently seen for ADHD medications.
"These are very frustrating shortages because patients rely on these medications, and in many cases, they're having to try to call around to different pharmacies," Fox said. "Because they are controlled substances, it's a bit harder to shop around for a pharmacy. Different pharmacies are only allowed to purchase a certain amount, so with that, some pharmacies might be limiting their prescription fills."
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.