Nationwide Adderall shortage unresolved

A pharmacist at a Kent Pharmacy fills out an orders of pills. Photo by Brian Smith.

A pharmacist at a Kent Pharmacy fills out an orders of pills. Photo by Brian Smith.

Christina Suttles

The Food and Drug Administration recently put the ADHD drug Adderall on its official list of drug shortages after a strained relationship between the Drug Enforcement Agency and manufacturers led to a decrease in supply.

As a result, patients will continue to have a difficult time finding the prescription drug. Many local pharmacies have been directing long-time patients elsewhere when they come to get their prescription filled.

“Normally I go to CVS to get my prescription, but this time I had to go to two different CVS’s, where they were really rude about not having it,” an anonymous Kent resident said. “Eventually, I had to go to Walgreens. They still took over a day to get it to me.”

Representatives for CVS pharmacy said that they are doing their best to resolve the issue.

“In the event that a prescription medication is not available because of a manufacturer’s shortage, CVS pharmacists will work with their patients’ physicians to try to take care of their needs, including the possibility of moving the patient to a different prescription if appropriate,” CVS Pharmacy Director Mike DeAngelis said.

In 2010, 8.4 percent of children 3 to 17 years old were diagnosed with ADHD, and prescriptions for the drug increased by 13.4 percent between 2009 and 2010, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The problem lies in an ongoing dispute between manufacturers and the DEA.  Adderall is heavily trafficked by those who are prescribed, and abused by those who are not; therefore,  the DEA sets what some say are “strict” quotas for the substance, according to the New York Times.

Manufacturers, such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., say they can’t keep up with the increased demand for Adderall if the DEA doesn’t loosen their quotas.

“Our production facilities are currently running at maximum capacity for Adderall,” a representative for Teva told Reuters. “The catalyst for the problem is the quota system, not the business.”

The DEA doesn’t think that looser standards will solve the problem and that pharmacies are looking to make a profit by refusing to sell generic brands.

In October, President Obama signed an executive order that makes mandatory an efficient review of drugs and drug shortages to prevent price gouging of drugs in short supply.

Why Should I care?

Students who are prescribed should care because it means that they will not be able to get the medication they need to function effectively.

Students who are not prescribed should care because it’s another example of how government programs may or may not consider the best interest of the people.

For those who have been unsuccessful in looking for Adderall in the Kent area, Walgreens pharmacy has a relatively steady supply, a Walgreens pharmacist said.

A pharmacist at CVS said the substance is on manufacturer back order.

“We’ve been waiting for a lot of it to come in. We don’t have any in the moment, but we’re expecting a stock to come in a week or so.”

Contact Christina Suttles at [email protected].