A shortage of anything can be inconvenient, but when it comes to daily medications, it can be downright dangerous. According to the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University, 66 percent of all adults in the U.S. use prescription drugs, with nearly 131 million people relying on medication for their wellbeing. If you’re one of these people, you know that missing a daily dose can cause unpleasant side effects and complications. Now, the manufacturers of one common medication are warning that it could become more difficult to come by. Read on to find out which meds are in short supply, and how it might affect your prescription.
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According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are different reasons for drug shortages, namely “manufacturing and quality problems, delays, and discontinuations.” The FDA plays an integral role in mitigating the impact on consumers who rely on medication, working directly with the manufacturers.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages have become that much more common, as ongoing global supply chain issues continue to disrupt production. The agency currently has a notice on its drug shortages page, stating that it “continues to take steps to monitor the supply chain,” and manufacturers are asked to keep the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research up to date on any aspect of their supply chain that’s impacted by the pandemic. A database lists all of the medications currently in shortage, as well as those that have recently been resolved—and now, another medication may be added to the list.
Adderall is a stimulant commonly prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), having first been introduced in 1996, Bloomberg reported. Since then, prescriptions have been on the rise. In 2021 alone, nearly 41 million prescriptions for both the brand-name and generic forms of the drug were written, according to data from Symphony Health, per Bloomberg.
The upward trend and increased demand is thanks in large part to telehealth companies like Cerebral and Done, which capitalized on patients’ inability to see doctors in person during the pandemic. Both companies recently faced scrutiny for prescribing Adderall, which is a controlled substance with a “high potential for abuse,” according to the FDA. Backlash even prompted CVS Pharmacy and Walmart to stop filling prescriptions for controlled substances from these telehealth services altogether.
Now, those with Adderall prescriptions might have even more trouble accessing medication, as Teva—the largest supplier of the drug in the U.S.—is facing supply problems.
The issue is tied back to “supply disruptions,” a spokesperson for Teva told Bloomberg, specifically at one manufacturing facility that produces “some doses of branded and generic Adderall.” Dosages on backorder in the U.S. include 20-mg and 30-mg Adderall immediate release tablets, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), as well as four varieties of amphetamine mixed salts.
The spokesperson further confirmed to Bloomberg that the disruptions “are associated with packaging constraints,” but didn’t provide specific details. As a result, Teva is experiencing delays in shipping the medication out to some customers, the outlet reported.
The FDA confirmed that overall, there is not a shortage of ADHD medications, and Adderall is not currently on the list in the database of drugs in short supply. In an email sent to Fierce Pharma, a Teva spokesperson said that some customers “may encounter a backorder,” but that the issue will only be temporary.
Speaking with Bloomberg, a Teva spokesperson stated that for brand-name Adderall, the company anticipates “full recovery” by the middle of August, but patients who take the generic form could be waiting a bit longer. According to the spokesperson, generic Adderall will see recovery “in the beginning of the fourth quarter,” and potentially by October, Bloomberg reported.
Best Life reached out to Teva for more information on a potential Adderall shortage, but has not yet heard back.