Adderal supplies in the US are dwindling as pharmacies and patients report shortages. The crux of the problem appears to be a major supplier of the drug for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder has run into supply chain issues. Patients who find themselves without their medication might experience "withdraw" or even a "crash" that could impact productivity at work.
The supply crunch first hit our radar last month when the National Community Pharmacists Association found hundreds of pharmacies across the US had trouble purchasing Adderall and generic versions of the brand in late July.
Bloomberg spoke with a dozen patients in California, Indiana, and Michigan who were told by their local pharmacists at CVS Health Corp. or Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. about a worsening drug shortage.
"In some cases, patients were told they might have to wait more than a week to get their medication, which is supposed to be taken every day," Bloomberg noted.
Walgreens spokesperson Rebekah Pajak acknowledged that "supply chain challenges" persist with the drug. She said instant-release and extended-release Adderall are the ones in the shortest supply. Meanwhile, CVS spokesperson Matthew Blanchette said Adderall prescriptions at the company's pharmacies can be filled "in most cases."
The shortage began at Teva Pharmaceuticals, the US' largest branded and generic Adderall supplier. Blomberg noted the Israeli multinational pharmaceutical company experienced "labor shortages" that led to the limited supply of brand-name and generic instant-release Adderall. Then three other companies Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc., Rhodes Pharmaceuticals LP, a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma LP, and Novartis AG's Sandoz unit, all were hit with a surge in orders for generic extended-release Adderall that is now on "back order."
What appears to have happened in the world of pharmaceuticals is that when one drug manufacturer has a problem, it quickly has a ripple effect across the industry.
The shortage comes as amphetamine sales are at record highs, driven by increased ADHD diagnoses. During the virus pandemic, the federal government eased rules requiring patients to see a doctor in-person before the controlled substance was prescribed which is one of the contributing factors to over-prescription.
For those who miss their daily dosage because of the shortage, it's entirely possible to experience symptoms of Adderall withdrawal. Some describe it as a "crash" that can leave people drowsy for hours, if not days, and include symptoms of mental and physical exhaustion and feelings of depression.
Anthony Anderson, a 34-year-old special education teacher at a Michigan high school, said he has been without his Adderall since Sept. 6. He's been taking the medicine for 15 years to treat his ADHD, and without it, he says it's incredibly difficult to concentrate, which makes it challenging for him to do this job. Sometimes, he forgets what he is talking about mid-sentence.
Anderson was recently talking with a student about a suicide at the school, and at a time when he was supposed to be helping the grieving student, he just couldn't pay attention.
"I even spaced out when I'm trying to have a serious conversation with this girl to console her, but I spaced out because I'm not able to focus," he said. "This is a huge issue for me." -Bloomberg
We would love to see the productivity metrics of performance-based companies over the next several months to see how an Adderall shortage impacted productivity. Then again, Wall Street has the luxury of another stimulant if an Adderall shortage affects Manhattan pharmacies; that is cocaine.