Americans with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are struggling to find good alternatives to the stimulant Adderall, which has been in short supply this fall and will likely not be back in stock until early next year.
About 6 million US children aged 3 to 17 years have been diagnosed as having ADHD, and 62% take a medication to help them focus and control their behavior, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated prevalence of ADHD among college students is 11.6%; among adults, the prevalence is 4.4%.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the shortage of Adderall in October: "FDA is in frequent communication with all manufacturers of amphetamine mixed salts [Adderall], and one of those companies, Teva, is experiencing ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays. Other manufacturers continue to produce amphetamine mixed salts, but there is not sufficient supply to continue to meet U.S. market demand through those producers."
Pharmacies, though, had begun reporting shortages of Adderall over the summer, when 64% reported difficulty obtaining the drug. Teva, the leading manufacturer of Adderall for the US market, blamed the shortage on intermittent manufacturing delays due to ongoing worker shortages, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Demand has also been rising for Adderall, with an increase of nearly 20% in 2021 over 2020. Getting a prescription also became easier in 2020, when the US government eased rules to allow Adderall prescribing during telehealth visits.
Adderall is a controlled substance and therefore highly regulated by the US government, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains strict rules on maximum production to avoid patient abuse of the drug. The DEA is unlikely to raise those limits in 2023, DrugWatch reports.
While awaiting a resupply, patients and parents should talk with their healthcare provider about alternative ADHD drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta, and Strattera, Nidhi Kumar, MD, of Saint Peter's Healthcare System in New Jersey, told CBS News.