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Navigating the Adderall Shortage: Causes, Impacts, and Solutions

Adderall shortage
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
Reviewer:

Dr. Bradley Noon

MD

Content

Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs. Read more

The shortage of Adderall, a stimulant medication frequently prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), was first discussed in the summer of 2022. In October 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed Adderall on its official drug shortage list [1*] . This incident is still creating hardship for many patients trying to improve their mental health. Although there are generic forms of Adderall containing the same active ingredients, they are not enough to overcome the nationwide Adderall shortage.

While there are alternatives to the immediate-release and extended-release versions of Adderall, it may take time to determine the most suitable option. Also, healthcare providers should supervise the switch to a new medication and a patient’s response to it. All this makes the process of ADHD management more challenging.

Read on to find out the potential causes of Adderall shortage, what can be done about it, and what medicines can serve as alternatives until the issue is resolved.

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What Fueled an ADHD Medication Shortage?

It is worth mentioning that shortages of this nature have happened before. However, the current situation with ADHD medications like Adderall impacts thousands of people and requires a solution.

It can be difficult to identify one exact cause of the Adderall shortage. Overall, a combination of supply shortage issues, increased demand, and regulatory changes could contribute to it. Below, you’ll find a brief recap of the factors leading to this challenging situation.

Controlled Substance Quotas

The demand for ADHD medications keeps growing year by year [2*] . However, they often contain Schedule II controlled substances [3*] like amphetamine and that is why they have a high potential for abuse and dependence and require utmost attention from medical practitioners. Due to stringent regulations, addressing the demand for such medicines is a challenge.

Manufacturers are obliged to produce medications according to the quarterly Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) quotas, but increasing these quotas is complex. This, coupled with manufacturers experiencing time-release shortages, makes pharmacists struggle to get sufficient stock from wholesalers.

Manufacturing Delays

In recent years, many pharmaceutical companies have experienced manufacturing delays contributing to shortages. While Teva, a major Adderall manufacturer, now has specific doses of Adderall available, the company is still experiencing ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays for other amounts. According to the FDA, this medication is still in shortage [4*] .

Regulatory Changes

In early August 2023, both the DEA and the FDA issued a joint letter [5*] acknowledging the shortage of prescription stimulants, such as Adderall. They cited several contributing factors, including a surge in prescription rates for stimulants and pandemic-related prescribing rules.

Not Authorized Use

Some people not diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder seek stimulant medications like Adderall for non-medical purposes, such as to experience a mild high or improve focus and performance. Aside from negatively affecting the market and contributing to the development of biased attitudes against people requiring Adderall for medical purposes, taking Adderall or other controlled substances without a medically significant reason is unsafe. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any disturbing symptoms and avoid self-medicating.

Get expert advice on ADHD management online. Our medical providers are here to find the most suitable treatment options.

What Could Be Done to Resolve Adderall Shortage?

In October 2022, the FDA first announced a shortage of Adderall, affecting many people with ADHD. This led to doctors switching patients to other stimulants, causing other drug shortages. 

In March 2023, lawmakers urged the Drug Enforcement Administration to address the shortage. Later, in August, the DEA and FDA called for collaboration [6*] between manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies to resolve the issue of drug shortages. The letter highlighted the importance of reassessing drug quota allocations as a key step in addressing the supply issue.

To fix the Adderall shortage, the FDA has taken several proactive steps:

  • The FDA has published comprehensive information about the shortage, including a list of current manufacturers and the available product strengths. 
  • As new supply information becomes accessible, they consistently update their website to inform stakeholders.

They are committed to ongoing monitoring of the supply situation and are actively collaborating with manufacturers to provide any necessary assistance to bring Adderall back in stock.

Withdrawal Symptoms and Effects of Discontinuing ADHD Medications

When discontinuing Adderall medication or other similar ones used for ADHD treatment, there may not be severe withdrawal symptoms akin to opioids or alcohol. Most people can stop taking Adderall without withdrawal effects, especially when on low doses or using it intermittently. 

However, high doses, long-term use, and frequency increase the risk of withdrawal. Typical withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Increased hunger
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of motivation

The duration of withdrawal varies based on dosage and duration of use. It generally lasts for a week or two but may potentially persist for weeks in prolonged misuse.

In the common scenario, managing withdrawal symptoms at home is feasible without major health risks. If symptoms become overwhelming or disrupt daily life, it’s advisable to consult a mental health professional or primary care physician.

While no medications can cure withdrawal symptoms, specific strategies can help alleviate the discomfort until it stops naturally. Prioritizing adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and seeking symptomatic treatment can make the withdrawal process more manageable.

The Impact of Adderall Shortage on Patients

In response to the Adderall drug shortage, patients with ADHD are being denied their treatment and divided into three main groups: 

  • Those continuing treatment without medication. 
  • Those finding better alternative medications. 
  • Those switching to other ADHD medications that appeared less effective for them.

Some patients have to contact multiple pharmacies to find and purchase Adderall. However, challenges exist, as patients can’t call ahead due to regulatory restrictions, necessitating prescription canceling and reissuing for a different pharmacy. 

If you use an immediate-release formulation and are worried that you might not be able to acquire your medication during this worldwide shortage, speak with your healthcare provider. They will find out whether any alternative solutions instead of the Adderall prescription might be able to accommodate your needs in the meantime. 

If your pharmacy has no Adderall extended-release shortage, you might be able to switch to it after consulting with a clinician. Otherwise, you might need to look into other prescription ADHD medications and discuss a switch with your healthcare provider.

There are numerous alternative medications, including Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), Ritalin (methylphenidate), and Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine). Just be aware that finding the best dosage of these stimulants can take some time, and it’s important to stay in touch with your clinician to monitor side effects and response to treatment and adjust the plan accordingly if needed.

Discuss your symptoms and ADHD treatment path with an expert and receive a personalized plan, including Adderall alternatives, if necessary.

It Seems the Adderall Shortage Ends. Is It True?

A nationwide shortage of ADHD medications has persisted for nearly two years. DEA, responsible for setting limits on amphetamine ingredients for ADHD medications, asserts that there are sufficient raw materials for production. However, manufacturers dispute this claim, stating they have exhausted their ingredient supply and need DEA approval to acquire more.

Thus, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists [7*] reports that there is still an ongoing shortage of at least 38 different doses or formulations of stimulant ADHD medications. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists keeps track of which medications are hard to come by. On the ASHP website [8*] , you may see a list of amphetamine-mixed salts that have been updated.

What to Do If You’re Having Trouble Getting Your ADHD Medication

During the wait time for the Adderall shortage to be over, it’s essential to take proactive steps and seek support. Below, you’ll find the recommendations on navigating challenges, discovering alternative solutions, and upholding your overall well-being amid this difficult period.

  1. Contact your healthcare provider and discuss pharmacy options that might have your medication in stock. You may also ask about alternative doses of your usual medication.
  2. Your healthcare provider can suggest alternative ADHD medication. A range of stimulant and non-stimulant options are available to address ADHD symptoms.
  3. Resist the urge to self-medicate, as this can lead to complications and is not a safe solution.
  4. Focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep, eating nourishing foods, and engaging in regular physical activity.

Bottom Line

The shortage of Adderall may feel challenging for those having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, there are several solutions to this problem. Many alternative dosages and medications are available to help those with ADHD manage their symptoms effectively.

Consult with our healthcare providers online if you want to learn more about dealing with the shortage of ADHD medications and find a suitable treatment option tailored to your health needs.

FAQ

The shortage of controlled substances may happen due to various factors. These include discontinuation, issues with manufacturing or quality, delays related to the manufacturing process, increased demand, and quotas imposed by regulatory authorities. Usually, there are several reasons occurring together, and in such cases, it may take more time to resolve the issue.
Yes, there are generic versions of Adderall oral tablets and Adderall XR extended-release oral capsules. All these are known as amphetamine/ dextroamphetamine. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider regarding switching to alternative medication, even if it is a generic version of the medication you have been taking.
You can purchase Adderall from legal online pharmacies that follow all necessary regulations. You should have a valid prescription from a medical professional to receive this medication.

Sources

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8 sources
  1. FDA Announces Shortage of Adderall
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  2. Trends in Stimulant Prescription Fills Among Commercially Insured Children and Adults — United States, 2016–2021
    Source link
  3. Pharmacist’s Manual
    Source link
  4. FDA Drug Shortages
    Source link
  5. FDA Announces Shortage of Adderall
    Source link
  6. The FDA letter
    Source link
  7. Amphetamine Extended-Release Oral Presentations
    Source link
  8. Amphetamine Mixed Salts, Immediate-Release Tablets
    Source link
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
Reviewer:

Dr. Bradley Noon

MD
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