Shortages were common in every sector during the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020, but many of these supply chain issues have thankfully started to die down. Unfortunately, that's not the case for a large number of drugs, including very common prescription medication, Adderall. As people continue to struggle with access to the ADHD treatment, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just gave a sobering new update on the drug's ongoing shortage. Read on to find out what the agency has to say about how long this medication will be in short supply.
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The FDA confirmed the Adderall shortage last month.
For several months now, people have been sharing difficult experiences with getting their Adderall prescriptions filled. But it wasn't until last month that the FDA officially confirmed the drug's shortage. According to an alert released Oct. 12, the agency announced that it had added the immediate release formulation of amphetamine mixed salts—otherwise known by the brand name Adderall or Adderall IR—to its Drug Shortages list.
"FDA is in frequent communication with all manufacturers of amphetamine mixed salts, and one of those companies, Teva, is experiencing ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays," the agency said. "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."
Now the agency has a sobering new update.
As of Nov. 18, Adderall still has a status of "currently in shortage" on the FDA's Drug Shortages list. And it doesn't appear that will change anytime soon. A spokesman for the FDA said on Nov. 15 that the agency expects for the nationwide Adderall shortage to last for another 30 to 60 days, The New York Times reported.
According to the newspaper, some manufacturers do have the medication available now. But Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest producers of Adderall, still has several doses of the medication on backorder—with the FDA warning that for some of these doses, recovery isn't expected until at least Dec. 2022.
The New York Times reports that the manufacturer was struggling to hire workers over a year ago, which resulted in manufacturing delays. But a spokeswoman for Teva recently told the newspaper that while those delays have been resolved, the company is now facing "a surge in demand," which is the main reason why backorders continue.
And that's not the worst of it: The FDA said another Adderall producer, SpecGX LLC, is expected to experience supply constraints for certain dosages of this prescription medication through Jan. 2023.
Millions of people rely on Adderall daily.
The continuation of the Adderall shortage could be devastating for the many people already struggling without their medication. The health research firm IQVIA said that 41.4 million Adderall prescriptions were dispensed in the U.S. last year alone, per Axios. The medication is meant to be taken daily, and having to go even one day without it is no easy feat.
"The people that depend on the medication for daily functioning, for going to work, for being a good mother, for going to class, are struggling. This is not something to make light of," Fairlee C. Fabrett, PhD, director of training and staff development for the child and adolescent division at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, told The New York Times.
David Goodman, MD, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told CNN that a lack of access to Adderall can have implications for careers, home lives, and even safety. "This can come down to the difference between stopping at the red light or running the red light because you got distracted," he said.
There are a number of side effects to Adderall withdrawal.
People can also experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking Adderall, which may include mood swings, irritability, appetite suppression, and in severe situations, suicidal thoughts, Fabrett told The New York Times. Anish Dube, MD, chair of the American Psychiatric Association's Council on Children, Adolescents and Their Families, said patients can also develop headaches, jitteriness, intense fatigue, and gastrointestinal distress from Adderall withdrawal.
Thomas Mandat, a 24-year-old who was diagnosed with ADHD in the third grade, told The New York Times that in his first two weeks without medication due to the shortage, he was so exhausted that he could not eat and had to force himself to drink protein shakes. On the third day of his Adderall withdrawal, he described feeling like he was in a "zombified" state at his job. "It's like if you sleep eight hours, but it feels like you only got three," he told the newspaper.
Not everyone who stops taking Adderall will experience withdrawal. But Brigid Groves, PharmD, senior director of practice and professional affairs at the American Pharmacists Association, told The New York Times that the risk of someone developing these symptoms increases the longer that they have been taking Adderall and the higher their dosage is. Nevertheless, even people on a low dose of Adderall can experience withdrawal, Dube said, and short-acting forms of this medication are more likely to induce it than extended-release versions.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.