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Adderall Shortage Continues in 2012

The adderall shortage will continue in 2012 and I doubt it will lessen up anytime soon.

The New York Times reported that the FDA has recently added adderall to its official drug shortages list.

You’d think that it being February of 2012 that pharmacies would have their shelves stocked with inventory. But that’s not the case.


There are a few different stories as to why there is an adderall shortage.

Some believe that the shortage should be blamed on the amount of people being diagnosed with ADHD and being prescribed medication for treatment.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2007 about 9.5 percent, or 5.4 million, of school aged children were diagnosed with ADHD.

There has also been an increase of 13.4 percent in adderall prescriptions from 2009 to 2010. Reuters reported that during 2009 to 2010 more than 18 million prescriptions of adderall were written.

The increase of people being diagnosed with ADHD and being prescribed adderall (and without getting into all the reasons why more people are being treated for ADHD) should trigger pharmacies to add more shelf space for product. But that’s not the case.

The DEA sets manufacturing quotas and limits for drug ingredients to be used for certain prescription drugs. With these limits, the drug manufacturers cannot meet the growing demand because the DEA does not allow them to utilize all available API (adderall’s active pharmaceutical ingredient aka mixed amphetamine salts) to produce more supply.

Teva, a manufacturer of adderall, told Reuters, “Our production facilities are currently running at maximum capacity for adderall utilizing all available API. The catalyst for the problem is the quota system, not the business.”

DEA spokeswoman, Barbara Carreno, told Reuters that hundres of drugs that do not require a DEA quota, are also experiencing shortages. However, these shortages are not caused by quota limits, but marketing ploys by drug makers.


Barbara Carreno also told Reuters, “Any shortage of these products is therefore a result of decisions made by industry regarding manufacutring or distribution.”

Special Agent Gary Boggs of the DEA’s office of diversion control also believes that there is enough adderall in stock and told the New York Times, “We believe there is plenty of supply.”

But it’s not like Special Agent Gary Boggs or DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno are standing in the pharmacy line with their fingers crossed praying that their prescribed medication is in stock are they? No, probably not.

The ones that are suffering are thousands to millions of people ranging from children, students, adults to executives who are not able to get their medication filled. This concerns me and concerns others as well.

“I’m very concerned about the future,” said Ruth Hughes, chief executive of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) in a report with Reuters. “No one seems to have much inventory to get us through the months ahead.”

Hughes added, “There are real major life impacts for people not having access to medication. Someone needs to own this problem and take the initiative to fix it.”


The Adderall shorage is now spilling over into other ADHD medications, such as Ritalin and Vyvanse because doctors are switching their patients off of adderall to other medications used to treat ADHD, because adderall is in such demand.

Novartis AG, a Swiss drugmaker of adderall immediate release is having troubles filling orders. Julia Masow, a spokeswoman for Novartis, wrote in an email, “There is currently not enough product to fill all of our customers orders at the wholesaler level.”

The adderall shortage will continue to be a problem until the DEA and manufactureres figure out a solution and stop pointing the blame at one another.

Here are the details on the Quota System:
With the quota system the drugmakers receive enough material to produce the DEA’s estimate of what they believe are the needs of American patients, without enough material to build inventory. (The DEA doesn’t want companies or users of stage II drugs to build up an inventory because of the likeliness of abusing the stage II drug.) The DEA points its finger at the manufacturing company for it’s marketing decisions and not themselves for releasing an insufficient quota.

Adderall manufacturers are producing as much product as they can to meet demand, but say that with the imposed quota, the DEA does not always approve enough material in time for them to produce product to supply their customers.

So where does the DEA get it’s quote from? They set an aggregated quota at the beginning of each calendar year, based on past years quota levels, inventory levels and company sales forecasts.

“DEA can come back and say, ‘we agree with your forecast and issue everything you want,’ or they may come back and say ‘we don’t think you need that much,’ and they give you 75 percent,” said Matt Cabrey, a spokesman for Shire. (Reuters)

Cabrey also said that Shire suffered shortage of Adderall XR, it’s extended release adderall drug, because of the DEA’s quota. “It was directly related to the API quota,” said Cabrey.

It generally takes Shire 3 months to produce adderall, from the time the DEA releases more product to the manufacturer. This 3 months delay makes it extremely difficult for those who need the product. 3 months without their medication can be very detrimental to someone’s life and overall well-being.

Amy Alkon, 47, began taking adderall for her ADHD about 6 months ago after Ritalin was no longer working for her. Alkon told Reuters, that adderall has changed her life. Taking adderall makes it easier to cope with her ADHD, by allowing her to organize her thoughts and take control of what she calls a “tornado” of activity in her brain.

Like many Americans, Alkon is having an extremely difficult time find her prescribed medication. “I have gone to the biggest medical centers in the Los Angeles area, I’ve called countless pharmacies and they have no pills,” she said. “Nobody has anything.”

If Alkon can’t find adderall in one of the largest cities in the country do you think middle America has an even remote chance of getting their medication? Probably not.

The DEA believes that their quota for 2011 was sufficient, although I completely disagree along with 1,000’s of my twitter followers who spent too long searching for adderall instead of consuming it.

“When you have a controlled substance problem, the DEA has to be involved in fixing it,” said Hughes. “It is not sufficient to say it is an industry problem. We need to figure out how to build more flexibility into the system.”

Let’s hope that the DEA and drug manufacturers work together to find a solution.

The countries adderall shortage needs to come to an end immediately. Too many students GPA’s depend on it.


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