There’s a national shortage of Adderall. Here’s how to cope.

Manufacturers of the drug used to treat ADHD are struggling to meet a shortfall caused by delays at one supplier.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declared a nationwide shortage of Adderall, a medication used to treat attention-deficit disorder among other conditions.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declared a nationwide shortage of Adderall, a medication used to treat attention-deficit disorder among other conditions.
Published Oct. 20, 2022

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made official last week what Tampa Bay child psychologists have known for a few weeks. There is a national shortage of Adderall, a drug used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

The agency issued a statement acknowledging the shortfall on Oct. 12, which it said was the result of “ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays” at pharmaceutical company Teva. The drug is manufactured by other companies, but the FDA warned, “There is not sufficient supply to continue to meet U.S. market demand through those producers.”

Psychologists who treat children with ADHD at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg have over the past few weeks fielded dozens of calls from worried parents struggling to find the medication for their children, said Dr. Mark Cavitt, medical director of Pediatric Psychiatry Services at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Here’s what you need to know about the shortage:

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a brand-name drug that is a mixture of four different amphetamine salts. It is approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy.

Three out of every four children diagnosed with ADHD receive some form of medication, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medication is considered critical to help children maintain focus, especially for school.

How serious is the shortage?

Drug shortages often happen when manufacturers encounter supply issues, but the FDA’s unusual public announcement shows the seriousness of this shortage, Cavitt said. Adderall’s unavailability could also lead to a run on substitute medications, he said.

In addition to Teva, other manufacturers are struggling to fill the shortfall as backorders mount.

Teva is still shipping Adderall and its generic version, the company said Wednesday in an email.

“It is possible that some people may encounter a backorder (intermittently) based on timing and demand, but these are only temporary,” the company said. “We expect inventory recovery in the coming months.”

The FDA has promised to provide updates on the shortage on its website.

My child takes Adderall for ADHD. What can I do ?

The shortage has created a wait-and-see situation for patients and their families.

Psychologists at All Children’s are sending prescriptions to different pharmacies who may still have supplies and are also switching patients to different medications that are as close as possible to Adderall, Cavitt said.

“Frequently we can find alternative medication regimens to at least get them through until the supply chain issues are resolved,” he said.

Pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens said they are working with manufacturers, pharmacists and patients to resolve supply issues.

“Our pharmacists will work with patients who are prescribed this medication as needed,” CVS said in a statement.

What alternative medications are there?

There are both generic and other brand-name drugs that can be used to treat ADHD, among them Ritalin and Concerta, Cavitt said.

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Longtime Adderall users might find there are newer alternatives that work better and have fewer side effects, he said.

“Stay calm, talk to the providers, talk to the pharmacists,” Cavitt said. “Together we can find other solutions.”

Adderall is a controlled substance. How does that complicate the situation?

Adderall has been abused as both a party drug and by students cramming for exams for extended periods. Such misuse has led to its designation as a controlled substance subject to high levels of regulation, including an annual limit on how much Adderall manufacturers can distribute.

Frustratingly for parents, the drug’s status also means pharmacies are not permitted to say whether they have any in stock, Cavitt said.

“The only way is to have your doctor send a script there,” he said.