FDA Declares Adderall Shortage Following Supply Delays

Labor shortages at the largest U.S. manufacturer of the drug made it a struggle for some pharmacists to order it this summer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared a nationwide shortage of a medication commonly known by its brand name, Adderall, which is prescribed to tens of millions of people to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and other conditions.

Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the primary manufacturers of the drug, “is experiencing ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays,” the FDA said in a statement Wednesday.

Although other manufacturers continue to produce amphetamine mixed salts ― the generic term for the medication ― there is not a sufficient supply to continue to meet U.S. demands, the FDA said.

The number of Adderall and generic equivalent prescriptions has been on the rise over the past few years. In 2021, there were 41.2 million total prescriptions of the drug, a 16% increase from the 35.5 million prescriptions in 2019.

Patients have been experiencing a shortage since August, with nearly two-thirds of community pharmacies struggling to order the medication at the end of July and beginning of August, according to CBS News.

Adderall shortages can pose challenges for those who need it, including symptoms of withdrawal such as “agitation, generalized slowing of mental and physical activity, increased appetite,” and “unusual tiredness or weakness,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Teva Pharmaceuticals told USA Today that it has an “active supply of both branded Adderall and its generic version and continues to produce and refill the channel regularly at levels above historical demand.”

“It is possible that some people may encounter a backorder (intermittently) based on timing and demand, but these are only temporary,” the company wrote in a statement.

Teva Pharmaceuticals spokesperson Kelley Dougherty said Thursday the company expects its inventory to recover in the coming months, but that supply delays are likely to continue through the end of the year. The FDA said it will continue to monitor the supply and assist manufacturers with anything needed to resolve the shortage.

A survey conducted earlier this year by the National Community Pharmacists Association, based on 358 responses from pharmacy owners and managers, found that 80% of community pharmacists reported supply shortages, and 64% reported having trouble getting the prescription stimulant.

These challenges started after Teva Pharmaceuticals experienced labor shortages over the summer, according to the American Journal of Managed Care.

The FDA recommended possible alternative treatments for those who need the medication until the shortage is resolved, such as extended-release versions of amphetamine mixed salts. The agency suggested that patients work with their health care professionals to determine their best treatment options.

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