Getting Answers: ADHD medication shortage

A shortage in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications continues across the country. Western Mass News is getting answers to find out how
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 4:24 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2023 at 5:07 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A shortage in attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications continues across the country. Western Mass News is getting answers to find out how this is impacting our area.

The latest shortage is plaguing the shelves of pharmacies in western Massachusetts, including Springfield Pharmacy. This time, it is the medications used to treat ADHD.

“We are seeing an increase in demand, and that, coupled with decreasing production, as well as the supply chain kind of being constrained, getting the product to make the medication really has seen a shortage in acquiring it from our wholesalers,” said Springfield Pharmacy co-owner Alex Wu.

He told Western Mass News that generic brands have been harder to get than name brand medications. Meanwhile, Barry Sarvet of Baystate Health said that patients have expressed concerns.

“They’re going to get their regular medication that they rely upon for their functioning every day, and in some cases, they’ve been on the medication for years, and then suddenly, they can’t seem to get it,” Sarvet said. “It’s disruptive to people’s lives, and people do struggle with challenges in terms of their functioning, their ability to perform their jobs, the ability to learn in school. Sometimes, children can have difficulty controlling their behavior.”

We wanted to know what is causing the supply issues. Novartis Pharmaceuticals provided us with an update on their supply of Ritalin that read:

“There is no issue with the availability of Ritalin LA (Long Acting/Extended Release). Based on current inventories and expected demand, Novartis doesn’t anticipate a supply interruption for Ritalin LA. There is a temporary interruption of availability for Ritalin 20mg tablets (Immediate Release) due to a delay in the supply of artwork and packaging components. We anticipate this will be resolved in the next few weeks.”

Meanwhile, Sandoz, a producer of Adderall, shared in part, quote:

“Our customers commit to us what they intend to order from us and we develop our manufacturing forecasts based on these orders. In order to fulfill these customer orders, we are granted permission by the DEA to manufacture this predicted level of ordering. In late 2022, we found that when a customer ordered more from us than what they forecasted (increased demand), we were unable to fulfill these orders. We petitioned the DEA for an increase in volume, with some requests accepted and some denied.”

Until these prescription medications are filling shelves again, Sarvet suggested talking to your doctor about other options.

“We talk with them about alternatives because sometimes we can switch them over to something that’s similar and that has the likelihood of being effective and being tolerable to them, and so, that’s our job,” he said. “Medication’s not the only treatment for this. There are different kinds of psychotherapy and different kinds of behavioral planning that can help with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

Sandoz told us that they are continuing to work to fulfill medication needs. They told us in part, quote:

“At this time we are meeting current customer orders but have not been able to fill increased demand and we are still working on fulfilling backorders. The FDA is monitoring the situation across the board… As of today, we are filling current customer orders, but not able to fill orders beyond that with our current supply…”

For all prescription needs, Wu encouraged people to have an open line of communication with their doctor and pharmacist.