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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

“The public should rest assured the FDA is working closely with numerous manufacturers and others in the supply chain to understand, mitigate and prevent or reduce the impact of intermittent or reduced availability of certain products,” FDA spokesperson Chanapa Tantibanchachai said in a statement.

The decreased production is likely also tied to the opioid crisis and the resulting backlash faced by manufacturers, Mattingly said. Many Big Pharma companies and some of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains faced a slew of lawsuits in recent years related to the handling of drugs and their role in the epidemic.

“In the background was the opioid crisis, and I think what happened is a number of the manufacturers, in particular generic manufacturers, became skittish about making short-acting stimulants,” Mattingly said.

Twenty-one-year-old Drew Goodman was diagnosed with ADHD in second grade. He started taking Concerta, another prescription stimulant, about two years later. Without it, he’s unable to manage his time, usually hyperfocusing on a singular activity.

“It’s just near impossible to stop doing whatever I’m doing,” said Goodman, a DePaul University student. “It makes it difficult just for day-to-day life.”

For a decade, he had no issues filling his prescription. Then, in 2021, it was out of stock at his usual pharmacy. It was the beginning of a monthly routine of tedious phone calls. There’s no alternative, he added — he needs his medication.

 

“It’s genuinely kind of dangerous,” Goodman said. “I’m not exaggerating, especially if I’m driving somewhere, I genuinely need it. It’s dangerous to drive without it.”

Kathryn Gray, a clinical pharmacist at the University of Chicago, is part of a team of physicians dedicated to medication access. A large portion of her work now revolves around locating drugs that treat patients’ ADHD. If the hospital pharmacy doesn’t have medication in stock, she’ll assist with the lengthy process of contacting individual stores.

“It’s been challenging to get adequate supplies of certain medications at any given time of the year,” Gray said.

The back order has also exacerbated health care inequality. Many patients aren’t able to drive to faraway pharmacies. Others have to pay hundreds out of pocket when they switch to an available medication that’s not insured.

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