There is an Adderall deficiency. A psychiatrist explains what it means for children, adults with ADHD


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The nationwide shortage of Adderall has caused people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder to scramble to find a pharmacy that can refill their prescriptions.

The Food and Drug Administration confirmed the shortage, which specifically affects the immediate-release formulation, earlier this month. Teva, a major manufacturer of generic drugs, including the generic version of Adderall, is “experienced with ongoing delays in production,” the FDA said. Further complicating matters: Adderall is considered a controlled substance because it contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and its production is tightly controlled.

Demand for Adderall and other stimulants has increased in recent years, continuing a decades-long debate about the risks of overprescribing and abuse.

Anthony Rostain, head of psychiatry at Cooper Health, says that some of his patients went to multiple pharmacies before finding it in stock. “They are extremely worried and quite frustrated,” he said.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a brand name For amphetamine mixed salts. The most common use of Adderall is to treat ADHD, but medicine Rostain says it’s also used to treat narcolepsy – a sleep disorder – and depression.

It comes in an immediate release form, which works for about 4 hours, and an extended release form, which people usually take once a day.

The shortfall is especially in Adderall’s immediate release formula.

What are the risks of deficiency?

The most immediate risk is disruption in daily life.

School-age children can have a hard time learning in class, and people of all ages can have trouble regulating their emotions, concentrating, and managing their behavior.

Stopping Adderall suddenly can lead to more hyperactivity and make people moody. “You don’t want to run out of stuff all of a sudden,” he said.

Rostain worries that people who are exhausted and under a lot of pressure, such as college studentwould try to buy illegal drugs, but he hasn’t heard of it happening in this shortage.

Is Adderall the Only Drug for ADHD?


There are many medications for ADHD, including different formulations of Adderall (immediate-release versus long-acting). There is also another medicine called methylphenidate. This drug is commonly known as Ritalin or Concerta.

What to do if you can’t refill your prescription

There are a few options.

Rostain said he advises patients to call different pharmacies to see if they stock Adderall. That may require a physical visit as some pharmacies may not be comfortable sharing their controlled substance supply over the phone.

“Yes, it’s a pain in the neck, but I’ve been telling people to keep looking around because not every pharmacy is out of the way,” he said.

Another option is for people to talk to their provider about the possibility of changing the medication they are taking or the formula. Some people who start with the immediate release formula may be able to move on to the extended release version.

“Adderall’s immediate release lasted four hours,” he explains. “Your ADHD doesn’t.”

FDA says ADHD med Adderall is in short supply

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