Adderall users battle ongoing drug shortages


When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed a shortage of the drug Adderall last month, many people who depend on the drug weren’t surprised: They’ve been struggling to fill their prescriptions for months.

The FDA says the shortage is expected to last another 30 to 60 days. This is happening in part due to growing demand for Adderall and intermittent manufacturing delays at Teva Pharmaceuticals, a leading maker of the drug, which is primarily used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Amid this increased demand, other manufacturers are also experiencing shortages.

It’s a problem that affects a growing number of Americans.

A report by data analytics firm Trilliant Health found that nationwide, Adderall prescriptions among people aged 22 to 44 increased by 15% between 2020 and 2021. There is also had a slight increase in prescriptions among people 45 and older.

Dr. David Goodman, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said that in recent months his patients have had to wait several days to fill their prescriptions. Lately they have to wait up to a week or two. Some have even been told that pharmacies may not see new supplies for months.

A lack of access to Adderall, which must be taken daily, can have implications for careers, family life and even security, Goodman said.

“It can come down to the difference between stopping at a red light or going on a red light because you got distracted,” he said.

At home, it can mean being a less attentive member of the family, being unable to regulate emotions, and feeling more irritable, which increases conflict. At work, this can mean increased impulsiveness and delays, making the person look like an unreliable worker.

“I’ve had patients call 10, 15, 20 pharmacies to get their medications,” Goodman said. “Now imagine you’re sitting on the phone, desperate to get the medications you need, and pharmacy after pharmacy after pharmacy either tells you they can’t tell you or they don’t have any. , and “we can’t tell you when we’re going to get it,” and that’s where the panic sets in.

Over time, these incidents can seriously damage a patient’s mental health.

Clara Pitts is what her mother describes as gifted. The 17-year-old from Taylorsville, Utah, is a National Merit Scholar and is constantly busy with his studies and schoolwork.

Without medication, Clara experiences what is called ADHD paralysis: she may have a long list of things to do and knows she has to get through it, but she finds it hard to stop any activity other than she does.

“She’s constantly trying to fit in,” Rebekah Pitts said. “She has a very detailed spreadsheet online where she puts everything she needs to do to try to help herself compensate, but the difference between being on [Adderall] and not on it’s more scale – that it’s easier for her to stay focused.

Rebekah has called eight local pharmacies on her daughter’s behalf since the FDA announced the shortage, and each one has been empty. He was told Clara might have to wait up to two months to get the drugs.

“As a parent, I was surprised at how upset I felt,” Rebekah said. “I was crying and it just wore me out. At the end of the day, I just crashed. I was like, ‘Wow, that really cost me a lot’ and I think I realized that I used to be able to get medicine when I had a prescription. I have never in my life tried to fill a prescription and been told “you can’t get this anywhere”. ”

When CNN spoke to Clara in late October, her prescription bottle still had eight pills, enough to last four days. But with college enrollment looming and the stress of senior year, Clara rationed pills for when she needed absolute focus.

“Sometimes my resting heart rate is elevated when I’m just sitting around thinking about my apps,” Clara said.

Clara heads to her doctor to look for an alternative medication until Adderall is back in stock.

Ashley Jordan, 24, from Colorado, said she also needs to save her pills for when she needs them most.

She’s been taking Teva’s version of Adderall for over seven years for ADHD and was surprised to find out in August that her pharmacy had given her another brand without telling her because that was all she had.

However, the new brand did not fit. “I was getting sick and throwing up every day I took it,” she said.

Now she rations the few Teva pills she has left.

“I pretty much had to try to do as much as I could when I was on the pills to avoid struggling without them,” she said, “so I’ve pretty much been in overdrive since it happened. ”

Mikey DeDona, 22, of Boston, takes Adderall for narcolepsy type 1. This condition makes it difficult for him to regulate his sleep. It can feel like a lot of poor quality sleep or even insomnia.

It took her pharmacy five days to fill her prescription in late October, and those days took their toll.

“It’s just knowing that I won’t even be at 50 percent all day,” DeDona said.

Without Adderall, it was much harder for DeDona to get out of bed and he needed multiple naps throughout the day. Suddenly going without medication also caused headaches and confusion.

“It sucks that you can’t do anything, against your own will,” DeDona said, “You have to immediately remind yourself how bad it is without medication.”

He was finally able to fill his prescription last month, but is worried about availability in the coming months as he doesn’t want to try another medication.

Goodman says there are pros and cons to trying different medications. “The plus is that it’s an opportunity to switch medications and see if there is a subjective improvement in the medication experience. … The downside is that the stimulants are not equally substitutable.

Goodman said the new drugs could also lead to new side effects such as sleep problems, mood changes and headaches.

Many people who have trouble finding Adderall in stock are looking for alternatives. Hundreds of social media accounts claim to have the drugs available, and some people turn to friends who are no longer using the pills they were prescribed.

Goodman strongly cautions against this, not only selling your own prescription drugs is a crime, but also sharing it with others.

He also pointed out that buying pills on social media or from dealers is incredibly dangerous.

In October, the US Department of Justice charged 23 people with trafficking counterfeit pills after seizing more than 74,000 counterfeit pills, including counterfeit Adderall containing methamphetamine.

“Remember, if you don’t get your pills from a prescribing doctor and they aren’t dispensed to you from a licensed pharmacy, you’re literally taking your life in your own hands,” Goodman said.


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