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'A horrible, perfect storm': Frustrations rise as shortage of Adderall, other ADHD medication continues

Kate Armanini, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

“It was just a horrible, perfect storm that really has trapped our patients from getting what they need to work, to perform at school, to be able to live their lives,” Carbray said.

Another hurdle: Because stimulant medication is a controlled substance, most people with ADHD can obtain only a 30-day supply at a time. It also means individual pharmacies can’t share where the drugs are available elsewhere — parents and patients have to contact each location, one by one.

When Linus’ Adderall runs out each month, Howell and her husband divide up a list of 20 pharmacies to call. The process can take hours. It takes even more time to drive to distant pharmacies.

Linus now only takes medication on school days to ration his supply.

“This is very real, and cognitively how he functions is dependent upon this medication being available to him,” Howell said. “It makes us feel like this system is not set up to accommodate people who are neurodivergent.”

It’s difficult to pinpoint a solution. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency closely regulates controlled substances due to a high potential for abuse and addiction, imposing quotas on manufacturers to curb production.

 

In 2022, manufacturers of amphetamine medications, which includes Adderall, only sold about 70% of their allotted quota, FDA and DEA officials said. That means about a billion doses were never made or shipped.

However, because drug manufacturers are private companies, neither agency can mandate increased production.

“We (DEA and the FDA) have called on manufacturers to confirm they are working to increase production to meet their allotted quota amount,” the agencies said in a joint statement in August.

The FDA told the Tribune that it can’t disclose specific production data because it’s considered confidential commercial information.

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