Some pharmacies dealing with Adderall shortage

Published 1:29 pm Thursday, March 2, 2023

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Amoxicillin, baby formula and new and used cars have all been hard to find at some point in the last year. Now add Adderall, the medication used to treat patients with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, to the list.

Karen Fisher, MercyOne pharmacist

According to Karen Fisher, lead pharmacist at MercyOne Westside Pharmacy in Mason City, the drug is prescribed to patients to treat symptoms including inability to sit still or concentrating on something.

“It’s a stimulant, and so it basically … slows the brain down a little bit,” she said. “It slows the body down.”

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Recently, there’s been a shortage of the brand-name drug, something she noted was not uncommon in pharmacies and has been for “at least four months.”

“You might have a wholesaler that did not meet (Food and Drug Administration) guidelines when they tested their product, and so you’ll have the medication recalled, which we haven’t had that recalled,” she said. “But there’s also where the manufacturer doesn’t produce enough or has problems getting ahold of the main ingredient for a product.”

There was also the issue of companies being bought out, meaning a previous manufacturer was out of play.

Currently, the pharmacy’s wholesalers (who provide medication) are Cardinal, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson, and will put restrictions or allocations on pharmacies.

“A pharmacy that might usually get three bottles in of a medication might be restricted or allocated only one bottle of medication,” she said. “That way they have technically those two bottles in order to give to another pharmacy that wouldn’t get any.”

To be clear, she believed the Adderall was not so much a demand issue as a supply issue, and not comparable to the Ozempic shortage (which she felt was a demand shortage).

Exacerbating the problem was the shortage of Concerta or methylphenidate, medications commonly used to treat ADHD and currently on backorder for Fisher.

“It’s more of trying to get product in, and then insurance companies have figured out that there’s a shortage,” she said. “And they’ve allowed us to go ahead and fill brand name medication instead of requesting that we fill it with a generic, although some people’s co-pays don’t allow them to get the brand name.”

She also believed there were more patients being recognized as having ADHD.

“We’re recognizing that it happens in adults also,” Fisher said.

To address the shortage, she said most people were calling their typical pharmacy for availability of Concerta or Adderall. If it isn’t, pharmacies were recommending people call another pharmacy in town to see if they carried the medication.

“One week I might not have the medication on hand, and the following week I may get it in,” she said. “… You don’t want people to leave your pharmacy, but yet you still want them to get the medication.. That’s where we’ve been directing people.”

She was hopeful medication would be off backorder by the end of this month or beginning of April.

Fisher also wasn’t aware of doctors currently prescribing different medications or therapies due to the drug shortage.

“We’ve had shortages prior to this,” she said. “… I remember when there was [a] Metoprolol shortage that caused us to change therapies.”

Metoprolol is used to treat high blood pressure.

Currently, the scarcity of Adderall and Concerta haven’t caused a shortage of other medications yet either.

Her advice to anyone looking for Adderall was to contact other local pharmacies for drug availability.

According to a New York Times article, Adderall was officially brought to the market in 1996 as a new, upgraded way for treating ADHD.