Adderall shortage leaves millions without access to ADHD drugs, and a nation of addicts wondering how to get their pharma fix
04/13/2023 // Ethan Huff // Views

Whether out of necessity or because of an addiction, Adderall users are having a lot of trouble accessing the drug right now due to a nationwide shortage.

It was first announced back in October that Adderall supplies would be limited for the foreseeable future, and that is still true to this day. Patients, providers, and psychiatrists are unable to get it, and there does not appear to be a fix coming any time soon.

"When I'm not medicated, it is life changing," said Matt Ford, a journalist for The New Republic who has been taking Adderall for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, since he was in elementary school.

"It has an impact on my quality of life," Ford told VICE News. "My family notices it, my wife notices it, my friends notice it. It has a measurable impact on how I'm able to function."

(Related: Taking Adderall is extremely risky due to potentially serious side effects, but the FDA wants people to keep taking it anyway.)

First the government blamed labor shortages and increased demand for Adderall shortage, now nobody seems to know why the drug has disappeared

For Ford and millions of other Adderall dependents, accessing the drug in the post-covid age remains a challenge. He is still trying to get his prescription filled but is unable to do so – and nobody has an answer as to why.

"I've spent all day calling every pharmacy near me in D.C. They're all out," Ford complained on Twitter back in March.

"No idea when it'll be back in stock. No idea where I can find a place that might be able to help. I run out later this week. Without going into specifics, my quality of life is about to get a lot worse."


The government initially said labor shortages and increased demand were responsible for the ongoing Adderall shortage, but neither of these excuses add up upon further inquiry.

In case you are unfamiliar with Adderall, it is a legalized form of meth called mixed amphetamine salts, or MAS. It is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for ADHD, but no longer now that Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of its manufacturers, is said to be suffering "manufacturing delays."

Even prior to the October shortage announcement, Adderall supplies were dwindling. Teva and three other companies put extended-release Adderall on backorder nearly a year ago, citing a labor shortage.

Prior to that, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) put Adderall on its list of drugs "currently in shortage." Just three of the nine companies that produce Adderall have fully available supplies of their offerings.

According to the FDA, Teva specifically "continues to experience unprecedented increase in demand" for Adderall, which is supposedly the reason why it remains largely unavailable.

Teva initially promised that the shortage would end at the conclusion of 2022, but that did not happen. The FDA continues to claim that the shortage is "demand-driven."

"If one company has a large market share, and that company has a shortage or sudden manufacturing delay, it really puts pressure on the other companies, and they may not be able to make up the difference," said Dr. Erin Fox, an associate chief pharmacy officer at University of Utah Health who compiles drug shortage data, adding that a manufacturing issue alone could produce a snowball effect that makes it increasingly difficult to obtain the medication.

"It's not always easy for these companies to ramp up supply quickly."

Last month, the FDA reaffirmed that it "recognizes the impact" the shortage "may have on health care providers and patients," but that it is no longer the fault of manufacturers because "supply is increasing."

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