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What caused the Adderall shortage 2024?
Doctors are diagnosing more ADHD and writing more prescriptions for drugs that treat it. That, combined with limits on their production, led to shortages of these medications.
The recent rise of telehealth and virtual prescribing during the COVID-19 pandemic is one explanation for increased demand for the drugs, Ganio said, as patients gained easier access to health care providers. Practitioners were permitted to diagnose ADHD and prescribe controlled substances online, which previously required an in-person visit. That flexibility has been extended through Dec. 31, 2024.
Some people were diagnosed after pandemic closures forced them to work from home or their kids to attend school virtually. For some, the loss of a workplace or school structure aggravated symptoms. Often, when kids are diagnosed, their parents are, too.
In emailed responses to USA TODAY, the top two suppliers of Adderall blamed the shortages on the increased demand, but experts say other factors, such as federal limits on the production of controlled substances, played a role.
More diagnoses lead to higher demand
The Adderall shortage began with Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the nation’s top suppliers of the drug, the FDA said. Last fall, Teva’s manufacturing delays resulted in a shortage of immediate-release Adderall.But the pressure, from increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with the disorder and seeking medication, had been building for years.
In January 2021, there were about 7,000 Adderall prescription fills, compared to 20,000 in March 2023, according to IQVIA. The percentage of adolescent and adult females and adult males receiving prescriptions to treat ADHD increased during from 2016 through 2022, particularly during 2020 and 2021, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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ADHD Drug Prices Are Also Increasing Amid Short Supply
Another factor that could make Adderall shortage 2024 even more complicated is that some patients are now facing steeper price tags for Adderall and other medications to treat ADHD.
There’s an “upward trend” in the prices retail community pharmacies are paying for popular ADHD drugs, according to a USA Today analysis of Medicaid National Average Drug Acquisition Cost data. These prices are outpacing inflation and, in some cases, have doubled or tripled in price since the Adderall shortage 2024 began in October 2022, the analysis states.
These price hikes are especially putting financial pressure on families who aren’t adequately insured. It’s a trend experts say occurs when demand spikes.
“Some people have been forced to switch to nongeneric meds, which are more expensive, and for this reason they remain available when other generic ones are not,” says Alex Dimitriu, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in Menlo Park, California, and a medical reviewer for Everyday Health, who prescribes stimulants for some of his patients with ADHD. Adderall shortage 2024
“In the end, unfortunately even with medication, the laws of economics — supply and demand — still apply. As expected, during a shortage of medication, the price surges upward as demand continues, or even increases,” he says.
Ryan Sultan, MD, a psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York City who studies medical interventions for ADHD, says he’s heard from a handful of his patients that they’ve found it difficult to pay for their prescriptions amid inflated prices and inadequate health insurance.
“It’s the new problem on top of our ongoing problem of getting the medication to the people who need it,” Dr. Sultan says. “I can’t tell you the amount of time we spend on the phone with pharmacies trying to figure out if they have enough of the medication, and there’s an added layer of price now.”
When will the Adderall shortage end? Adderall shortage 2024
The Adderall shortage will end when supply meets demand, the experts note, but this isn’t as easy as making more medication; simply put, there’s no clear timeline as to when all ADHD medications will be readily available to those who need them.
The FDA cannot require a pharmaceutical company to make a drug, make more of a drug, or change the distribution of a drug, Chanapa Tantibanchachai, a press officer for the FDA, tells TODAY.com.
It’s unclear whether the DEA will change the quotas on stimulant production or its approval process for increasing quotas, but some stimulant manufacturers have already requested increases from the DEA, NBC News previously reported.
Earlier this month, Congress got involved. In an Oct. 12 letter, Democratic lawmakers pressed the FDA and DEA for more answers about their efforts to end ADHD medication shortages and urged the agencies to work with manufacturers.
“The FDA recognizes the potential impact that increased demand of certain products may have on health care providers and patients,” says Tantibanchachai.”The public should rest assured the FDA is working closely with numerous manufacturers, agencies and others in the supply chain to understand, mitigate and prevent or reduce the impact of increased demand of certain products.”
“It feels like a moving target. … It’s created almost a mob mentality around (which medications) are available,” says Ng.
In the meantime, people may have to pay out of pocket for whatever is available at the pharmacy. Although brand name drugs and their generics are therapeutic equivalents, says Nguyen, insurance plans may cover only cover the generic.
Fortunately, people who can’t access Adderall or other ADHD medications still have alternative options.