Survey: Persistent Adderall Shortage Disrupts ADHD Treatment Nationwide
The U.S. Adderall shortage appears to be worsening as four generic ADHD drug manufacturers report supply disruptions for extended-release formulations. In an ADDitude poll, 80% of respondents reported trouble getting their medication over the last few months. Here is what they told us.
The Adderall shortage reported earlier this summer spurred by labor constraints at a plant run by drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals is creating a trickle-down effect that is making generic forms of the ADHD medication difficult to find and fill across the United States. According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), three additional drug manufacturers — Sandoz, Amneal, and Rhodes, who together with Teva provide one-half of the U.S. supply of generic Adderall — are now reporting supply shortfalls.
Because Adderall (dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, or amphetamine salts) is a Schedule II controlled substance, the federal government limits the amount that any one company is allowed to manufacture. When Teva encountered supply shortages earlier this year, its competitors could only absorb so much demand. The result? Patients are now searching multiple pharmacies and waiting up to a month to receive 10-, 15-, 20-, and 30-mg tablets of generic Adderall in both immediate and extended-release formulations.
Though the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is not reporting a formal drug shortage, ADDitude newsletter subscribers surveyed yesterday say the problem is widespread and persistent. Roughly 80% of survey respondents — from Florida, Washington state, Rhode Island, and many places in between — reported encountering some trouble filling or refilling their own or their child’s ADHD medication prescription within the last few months. Here is some of what they told us:
“I am a part-time pharmacy technician and we were running very low on generic Adderall 10-mg just this past Tuesday. I was not able to completely fill a couple of prescriptions for that dosage. The full-time technician who was working stated that it has been on a back order list for a while now and was not confident that we would get what was currently on order.”
“This is the third time in the last 4 months I have had trouble getting my Adderall (generic form) filled. The first 2 times, they gave me more pills at a lower dosage to take each day to get to my daily dose. The last time they gave me 20-mg tablets and told me to take 1 1/2 each day to get to my 30-mg daily dose. And they keep saying there is not a shortage. Right!”
“In August, I visited more than 18 pharmacies, including a few Walgreens, and none had my prescription (Adderall 10-mg twice a day, 5-mg once a day). When I called the doctor, they told me that other patients also mentioned that they were unable to fill their prescriptions. It was stressful… two weeks passed before I could get my prescription.”
“My prescription for generic 30-mg Adderall tablets was sent to Walgreens pharmacy the Friday before Labor Day weekend and I received a text alert from the pharmacy that it was out of stock. I had a few pills left, so I wasn’t concerned, but by Tuesday (the day after Labor Day) I was out. When I called to talk to the pharmacy, they said they had been out of almost all dosages and didn’t know when they’d be receiving more as there was a nationwide shortage. That’s when panic set in! My first call after that was to the Rite Aid pharmacy I used to go to and thankfully, they had my dosage in stock! I’m grateful to have an understanding doctor who was kind enough to cancel the Walgreens script and send a new one to Rite Aid THAT day. The pills I got from Rite Aid look different than what I usually get from Walgreens, so they must have different suppliers and/or manufacturers.”
“I was told by CVS in Florida that they are no longer accepting customers with Adderall prescriptions due to inability to fill. Walgreens confirmed that they are out of stock on all dosages of Adderall. This makes it difficult for patients who depend on this medication. I am trying different nootropics to see if this can help.”
“For a few months, my pharmacy did not have any 20-mg doses of Adderall. Initially they just wouldn’t fill the order, forcing me to go elsewhere. Then they started filling it with two 10-mg doses instead. I started worrying about not being able to get it at all and I started stocking up on the short-acting 5-mg tabs I sometimes take in the afternoons to get me through the day. I was suddenly aware that I might have to live without my medication. The idea of going back to how it used to be terrified me and was supported by my nurse practitioner, who agreed it might happen. They have since resumed providing the 20-mg long-acting prescription. But I am still hoarding my 5s just in case.”
“The Walgreens I usually use in Virginia is completely out of 30-mg extended release and 20-mg immediate release. They did not receive any on their last re-order either. A community pharmacy had enough to fill my prescriptions, but that depleted their supply. That pharmacist indicated he had received multiple phone calls related to patients not being able to find a pharmacy with available stock.”
“For the past year, I have had an issue with my Adderall script at CVS… I’ve had to wait a whole month because they didn’t have any idea when they were getting more! Some days, my husband will call (because I can’t deal with phones) and they will say tomorrow, but then it will be like a week. Most of the time, it’s two weeks. Thank God I am a stay-at-home mom (I can’t get fired on my off days). I also homeschool my daughter, so when I don’t have my meds it literally ruins me for a week up to a month after I get my script again from the mess it creates internally and externally. Now I take half my dose on the weekends so I can build a stash for the shortage days because at least I can be somewhat productive with half a dose.”
“Walgreens in Minnesota has no supply of Adderall. We didn’t find this out until we had dropped off a refill prescription and had no information on pickup time, etc. We had to contact the provider and make the switch to CVS. We were delayed getting the prescription and my son was out of medication for several days.”
“One pharmacy said they weren’t accepting new patients with Adderall scripts because they barely received enough for the current patients they had. A second pharmacy said the extended release has been on back order but they’d fill it when they could.”
“I’m in Marion, Iowa. My prescription is for 30-mg, standard form (non-time release). When trying to fill in the middle of August, my usual pharmacy advised that none of the 30-mg options had been available for a while, and they were unsure when it would be (at the time, they were hoping less than 10 days). They also stated that supplies had been thin all summer, though they had rarely been as dry as they were then.”
“My son requested a refill through his university counseling center. The process itself is cumbersome, so it was 4:55pm on a Friday when we discovered that the pharmacy (CVS) that handles the prescription itself had been out of stock for three weeks. Other pharmacies in the area used the same supplier and were also out of stock. I assume that our being in a town with a large university at the start of the academic year exacerbated the situation. We found a pharmacy in the next town over that had the meds in stock, but my son had to restart the request refill process from the beginning. We lucked out, though — CVS received their restock on Monday and the pharmacist called me personally on the phone to let me know.”
“I was told by my psychiatrist (at Kaiser Permanente) that there was a shortage of the 10- and 20-mg pills, so he prescribed me two months’ worth of 5-mg ones. (I’ve just started the prescription and we are trying to pinpoint the correct dose.) But at the pharmacy, they had to call another pharmacy because they were out, and the second pharmacy said they could only give me one month’s worth.”