Patients in Lafayette, Louisiana Among Those Struggling to Get ADHD Prescriptions Filled
LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - From big box to locally-owned pharmacies, it's just as hard locally to get vital medicines for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) here as it has been nationally.
Back in October, the FDA warned of a critical shortage of ADHD medicines as a spike in diagnoses and patients from the COVID pandemic stretched supplies thin.
More than one patient locally told KPEL News that they could not get prescriptions for Adderall at their Walmart or Walgreens pharmacies, and they said that neither store could say when they would have the medicine back in stock.
And it isn't just here.
Locally-owned establishments, meanwhile, reported that shortages for them were off and on. "Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don't," one pharmacy said.
According to NBC News, it's not just Adderall, either.
Widespread scarcity has hit Adderall alternatives, too.
As of January, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which tracks drug availability, reported shortages affecting nearly 40 different doses or formulations of generic Concerta, a long-acting form of methylphenidate, the drug in Ritalin. Takeda Pharmaceuticals, which makes Vyvanse, also known as lisdexamfetamine, its generic, says there’s no shortage of that drug, but according to dozens of pharmacies reached by NBC News, Vyvanse has been on intermittent backorder for months.
Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality at ASHP said an unexpected rise in demand was more to blame than manufacturing equipment or drug quality issues.
“All of our drug shortage infrastructure, and everything we have in place in this country to mitigate the impact of shortages is based on potential disruptions in supply,” Ganio said. “It’s been very unusual to have a shortage based on increase in demand.”
One Baton Rouge pharmacist told WBRZ that his patients were struggling to find a solution.
“I had a patient come in and say they visited 10 to 15 pharmacies in the last two days to see if they had it," said Orlando Palmer, owner and head pharmacist of Parker's Pharmacy, told the TV station. “We don’t even have enough in stock to serve our own patients."
What Is ADHD?
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is defined by the CDC as a neurodevelopmental disorder that may lead children to "have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active."
Symptoms of ADHD may include:
- daydream a lot
- forget or lose things a lot
- squirm or fidget
- talk too much
- make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
- have a hard time resisting temptation
- have trouble taking turns
- have difficulty getting along with others
While some with the disorder can lead perfectly normal lives without medication, most will end up taking some sort of medication for it. Adderall, a stimulant that focuses the brain, is one of the most typical medications prescribed to ADHD patients.
But a shortage of those medications can prove to be problematic for school-age children. Students with severe ADHD often struggle to focus in class, causing academic and discipline issues. That is why many of those students have education plans that take their diagnosis into account and help offer strategies to keep students on track.
But, without that medication, that becomes a much tougher job for the student, parents, and teachers.
Why Is There a Shortage?
A spike in diagnoses during the pandemic as well as a production slowdown in the fourth quarter of 2022 are fueling the shortages.
[Pharmacist Rebecca Sorrell of Ritch’s Pharmacy] explains manufacturers only produce medications the first three quarters of the year stopping in the fourth quarter to evaluate for the following year.
She said that’s why we’re caught in the crunch now.
“Between the effects of COVID and shortage in workers and then increased need in the medication for people who are having trouble coping with what happened during COVID and trying to focus, we’ve got a shortage,” Sorrell said.
According to the FDA, the issue started out as a production issue at Teva, one of the world's largest drugmakers, which makes generic and brand-name Adderall. While the FDA has said that Adderall is no longer in shortage, however, many local patients are still struggling to find it.
Many makers of the drug have told the FDA, NPR is reporting, say they've been unable to keep up with the demand. Some manufacturers say they're having problems getting a key ingredient.
It's unclear how long the issues, however intermittent, will continue.