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So many people are taking ADHD medication that pharmacies are running out of the drugs, the New York Times reports.
Patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are having trouble finding anyone to fill their prescriptions for drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin. Meanwhile, there is concern that a growing number of college students are using the stimulants to get high and stay up all night, even if they don’t really have ADHD.
Manufacturers would like to make more of the drugs, but the Drug Enforcement Administration won’t let them, the Times explains. That’s because the drugs are controlled substances, and the DEA enforces annual production quotas intended to discourage abuse.
A Reuters story on the phenomenon focuses on the shortage of Adderall, or mixed amphetamine salts. The drug was prescribed 18 million times in 2010, up 13 percent from the previous year. From Reuters:
Concerns are now rising among patient groups and doctors that the shortages seen in 2011 will continue into this year. Many orders remain unfilled, manufacturers say, and it may take several months before ingredient authorized under the new 2012 quota can be turned into new product.
The Times article emphasizes a shortage of generic alternatives to brand-name drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin. The piece highlights a rare public spat between the Food and Drug Administration and the DEA. Noting the shortage of generics, the FDA blames the DEA for setting the quotas too low. But the DEA points to the availability of the high-priced brand-name drugs and says there’s no supply problem.
In all, the Times reports, doctors wrote 51.5 million prescriptions for ADHD medications.
The consequences for patients who can’t find the medications can be serious, with youngsters more prone to dangerous, impulsive behavior and adults at risk of getting in traffic accidents or getting fired. On the other hand, abuse is common because the drug not only improves concentration but can bring a sense of euphoria when ground up and snorted like cocaine.
Read more at the New York Times.