Adderall in Short Supply: What You Can Do
November 23, 2022
A nationwide shortage of the ADHD medication Adderall is concerning and distressing to many people who depend on the drug. The media reports that some patients are going without, while others have turned to an online black market.
The good news is there are a number of alternative medications, says Jacalyn Rogers, PharmD, University Hospitals’ Senior Director of Pharmacy Services and Director of the UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s compounding pharmacy.
Adults and parents of children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) shouldn’t panic. Rather, they should work with health care providers to find a suitable replacement, Dr. Rogers says.
“With any drug shortage, talk to your health care provider. Walk into the pharmacy, ask questions. Most drugs have alternatives. Don’t resort to extreme measures. Your provider or your pharmacist can work with you to find other options.”
The shortage is due to production delays at Teva Pharmaceuticals, the largest provider of Adderall. As a result, smaller manufacturers ran into supply issues. “The other manufacturers of Adderall cannot keep up with the supply because Teva was such a large player in the market,” Dr. Rogers says.
The shortage comes at a time when demand for Adderall has soared along with diagnoses for ADHD. “We have seen a doubling over the last decade of ADHD diagnoses and therefore prescriptions,” Dr. Rogers says.
Alternatives to Adderall
Adderall is a stimulant drug. There are several types of alternatives available:
- Stimulant medications include brand names Ritalin, Concerta, Vyvanse and Focalin.
- Non-stimulant medications include Strattera and Intuniv.
Most drug alternatives are approved for ages 6 and up, Dr. Rogers says.
Beware of Online Alternatives
Some patients have turned to online start-up companies that offer mental health treatment without the need to see a provider in person. The pandemic brought more patients to seek online treatment, as prescribing regulations loosened. But online mental health prescribing practices have come under scrutiny. In particular, the screening practices may lack the rigor of traditional medical providers.
Dr. Rogers says consumers should be counseled about side effects and the potential for abuse of stimulants. “When you have an online chat with a company, they’re not going to be able to tell you as much about the risks and benefits of these medications – or educate you about trying non-drug therapy first, which is usually recommended,” she says.
The dark web and social media are also host to shady operators who sell counterfeit drugs. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says drug traffickers are selling pills labeled as Adderall that may be laced with fentanyl or methamphetamine.
According to a DEA fact sheet, counterfeit pills are usually produced in poor conditions, labeled incorrectly, and may include dangerous, unapproved substances. “There are no quality control mechanisms in the illicit labs producing counterfeit pills to ensure dosing is not lethal.”
“When you’re buying Adderall from the web, you don’t know what you’re getting,” Dr. Rogers says. “That’s why reputable pharmacies and providers are so important.”
University Hospitals Department of Pharmacy Services offers around-the-clock pharmacy services for a variety of inpatient and outpatient needs. Comprehensive pharmacy services are available on our main campus, as well as at many of our community hospitals throughout Northeast Ohio. Learn more.