Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shortages of ADHD Medications


Timothy MacGeorge, MDiv, MSW, is this week’s guest blogger.

Are you experiencing difficulty in getting prescriptions filled for ADHD medications such as Adderall, Metadate, or their generic forms?

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added two major ADHD medications to its list of Current Drug Shortages. These shortages, which are apparently not widespread and seem to be sporadic throughout the country, are due to shortages in the “active pharmaceutical ingredient” (API) used to make brand medications such as Adderall XR, generically an Amphetamine Mixed Salt, and Metadate, a brand version of the generic Methylphenidate. It is expected that these shortages, which are the result of quotas imposed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on the manufacturers, should be resolved within the next six to eight weeks.

What to do? If you experience difficulty in filling an ADHD prescription due to this shortage, here’s what you can do:
• Ask your pharmacist if the medication is available from another location, especially if you use a large chain pharmacy.
• Contact the manufacturer to help locate a pharmacy that has your medication in stock (see the customer service numbers below).
• Contact the doctor who prescribed the medication to see if he/she has any samples you can use.
• Ask your pharmacist about the availability of other medications used to treat ADHD.
• As a last resort, discuss with your prescribing physician whether or not any of these available medications might be appropriate for you or your child.

Finally, if you’ve exhausted all avenues and still can’t get a prescription filled due to a medication shortage:
1. Tell the FDA: Send an email to drugshortages@fda.hhs.gov or call 888-INFOFDA or 888-463-6332.
2. Tell CHADD: 800-233-4050.

Not sure which company makes your medication? Check the prescription label or ask your pharmacist.

Pharmaceutical companies that produce Amphetamine Mixed Salts ER Capsules:
• Shire Customer Service Number: 800-828-2088 (select “Option 5” for assistance in locating a pharmacy in your area with product availability)
• Teva Customer Service: 888-838-2872
• Global Customer Service: 215-558-4300

Pharmaceutical companies that produce Methylphenidate HCL:
• UCB Customer Service: 800-477-7877
• Covidien Customer Service: 800-325-8888
• Sandoz Customer Service: 609-627-8500
• Watson Customer Service: 973-355-8300


Timothy MacGeorge, MDiv, MSW, is the director of the National Resource Center on ADHD: A Program of CHADD that is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

21 comments:

Denise said...

I had a problem filling my son's prescription for Adderall XR a few weeks ago. The two national chain pharmacies in my area did not have the medication. I called the small, independent pharmacies in my area and found one that had the drug in stock. You might want to do the same and check your small pharmacies.

JK said...

Also let your state & U.S. rep and senators know about this growing problem. There is some debate about whether this is a real shortage or one partially created by drug companies in order to manipulate supply and demand to their advantage. This is the 1st time I've heard it traced to the DEA. It is time to get collectively active and *angry* if necessary about this. I am tired of the growing multitude of hoops and hurdles I must endure to get *legally* prescribed medication just because law enforcement struggles to rein in bad guys who abuse and peddle these meds. Here are hurdles I must currently clear:
1. Get scrip filled within 5 days or else it expires --state law for controlled substances here in Delaware.
2. Doctor's ofc. CYA policy (not state law) is that I *must* pick up the paper scrip at doctor's office. They no longer mail it because "people can say they never got it and then have us write another one so they can get drugs." That takes a 45-min. chunk out of my day now as well as the cost of driving there and back. Ofc. also will not mail direct to pharmacy.
3. Pharmacy will not keep 3 months worth of pre-written scrip slips on file for me & requires me to keep track of them myself--harder for someone w. ADD, which includes disorganization & forgetfulness & losing things.

And if I complain about any of this I risk being perceived as a drug fiend who can't get her fix, not to mention giving up any hope for privacy and confidentiality.

WE ARE NOT THE CRIMINALS, but are increasingly treated like them for trying to get medication we're legally entitled to. What will I need next? A police escort? CHADD: Where is your legislative lobbying for us w. regard to this?

C A Stilwell Jr MD said...

Thanks for this important and helpful post. But your recommendation to ask physicians for samples won't help. It is illegal to provide samples of Schedule II controlled substances (These two - and all - stimulants are in this category). So physicians don't have access to them.

Roger H. said...

Why does the DEA have their hands in controlling the available quantity of Amphetamine Mixed Salts, ER? Is it because high schoolers and athletes are abusing the substance? I have not been able to find an explanation anywhere about the DEA quota system.

Anonymous said...

The DEA has to get involved because these drugs have become test taking steroids for the ultra competitive college board exams.

Roger H. said...

I haven't been able to get the generic of Adderall XR for 6 months now. Really getting annoyed with Government always interfering with my health care needs.

High School Diploma said...

I think that no one serious about this problem... We are doing what ever we can.. But, Government should take further step to control ...

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Neurodeviant said...

I am just now getting mad enough to actually take the issue head on... When I get mad, I write letters- good ones. I've advocated against stigma towards the mentally ill in general, mostly through NAMI... But this is difficult to pin down and therefore hard to get any organization to organize some kind of group effort. I had been hoping there was some group of people already fighting against this obvious discrimination but there isn't, maybe because there is no specific group that is obviously responsible. More like several. Since I found out that ritalin was affected now (I take adderall) it is so obvious that it's towards a group of people (us) more than just a screw up by the gov't or a company being allowed to make the whole supply of a med (Shire). I appreciate the ideas, and if anyone has had any luck recently, what, how, and when?

Anonymous said...

Since this shortage my medication doubled in price. Looks like someone
is taking advantage of the situation.
LK

get.page.unstuck said...

Aggghhh... This is still a problem in NYC.... I was able to get my 'scrip fill last month but today I went in for my refill and was told of this sortage. I am having a mini anxiety attact right now....

Barbara, CHADD member said...

After I was told of shortages by my mail-order drug company, I read the FDA site and contacted the manufacturer online. A manufacturer's representative called back and said that supply was rationed, but the drug was available. I called the pharmacy again and told them what the manufacturer had said. Then the prescription was filled. I asked myself whether this was a squeaky wheel issue or how others could put reasonable pressure on the pharmacy.

Barbara, CHADD member

kdn said...

I have had trouble getting my son's medication for about 2-3 months now. He is starting high school tomorrow WITHOUT any medication. God help the teachers and the students around him.
He has been completely off his meds for 2 weeks now. Along with his doctor we had been discussing the option of reducing or even ending the use of the medication since our son was managing himself remarkably well. Then came the trips to several pharmacies and back to the doctors office for slightly different dosages that worked with what the pharmacy had in stock or could get in stock. A new script in hand I showed up at the pharmacy again. This time the pharmacists didnt even flinch when he said, we don't have it and we can't get it anymore. That occured 3 times at 3 separate places. So, on the bright side... we took an unplanned but worthwhile break from the medication and learned very quickly that it infact is a key piece of the ADD treatment. We are very concerned about the shortage, withholding, discrimination, or what ever you want to call it. This medication is to my son what eye glasses are to a person with a astigmatism. The information in these posts and the article have been very insightful. I will be contacting the manufacturer 1st thing in the morning right after drop-off and I will send a note to our state and federal reps to let them know as well. Thanks CHADD!
kdn

Andrea said...

I haven't been able to get mine in Charleston, SC in over a month. I've been out of work for surgery but now that I'm ready to go back to work after a year, I'm afraid to accept a position at this point for fear of getting fired without my adderall. I understand that there are people out there that abuse it, over prescribe it, etc. but the people that it's really affecting are the ones who REALLY need it. I can't function & the non-stimulants don't work for me, nor do the extended release. Earlier in the year, it would be a week or two at the most the pharms would have it, but we're literally going on over 4 weeks now. I've called over 20 pharms, feel like a drug addict b/c of it, and none of them have it. I was told today by one of the CVS I called that it could been the first of the year (January) before it arrives. Up until the past year, I'd only have problems getting it during exam time when all the college kids who don't usually get it filled, got it filled, but even then, another pharm down the street would have it, nothing like it is now.

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Eddie's Father said...

Does CHADD or anyone have sample letters or boilerplates to help people out?

Anonymous said...

I have been on various adhd med for about seven years. Ritalin made me jittery as did Concerta; Adderall seemed to work OK at first, but makes me loopy; Vyvanse was basically inert. Forget about Straterra the non-stim: it made me extremely grouchy and tired. The only med that works for me is Dexedrine SR, but curiously enough a specific generic mfr's offering. Brand is OK but not as good, but better than the other generic dex and the other drugs. I have to go thru such a hoop to try and get generic I need - forget about contacting the mfrs and dists, they are all citing HIPAA regs "can't tell you where it's sold..." So ive basically given up and resigned myself to the brand.

Anonymous said...

I have been having trouble getting dextroamphetamine since September 2011. As a consequence, my doctor had to put me on Concerta, which does help a little but is not the right drug for me. I have been taking the dextroamphetamine for over 10 years and at the same dose. I went through similar hoops as JK and Andrea and others spoke about. I called and visited many pharmacies and was told the dextroamphetamine would not be available until January. My insurance had a max of $1000.00/yr. Because Concerta was so much more expensive, I reached my max. I then went to Aetna to see if there was a supplement or something else for purchase to cover my drug cost until August. After 4 hours of being switched around to many phone numbers, no one could help. So I started calling the university I attend and get my insurance through; a nurse gave me some phone numbers to call. Now I am filling out forms to find coverage for what the DEA did. I think I will be able to get the dextroamphetamine now but have no coverage for it. I am going to send an email to the address in the article and Monday I will call the phone number included. I feel so jerked around

String Thing said...

We have had trouble getting Adderall here in Houston, TX. My fiance, who also takes it, had to take his script to a couple different pharmacies. One of the pharmacies had it, but wouldn't fill it because he didn't get his filled there for the past month (his regular pharmacy had it in stock so he filled there instead), accusing him of "pharmacy hopping".

What a complete crock. This is getting really old. Neither of us can function like normal people without it. I am 33 yrs old and I was 26 yrs old when I was diagnosed with ADD. My life was hell before I was diagnosed. Pure hell and my head filled up with garbage and all I did was drink to get it to stop. Pretty sad because I had thought that was normal up until then.

String Thing said...

We have had trouble getting Adderall here in Houston, TX. My fiance, who also takes it, had to take his script to a couple different pharmacies. One of the pharmacies had it, but wouldn't fill it because he didn't get his filled there for the past month (his regular pharmacy had it in stock so he filled there instead), accusing him of "pharmacy hopping".

What a complete crock. This is getting really old. Neither of us can function like normal people without it. I am 33 yrs old and I was 26 yrs old when I was diagnosed with ADD. My life was hell before I was diagnosed. Pure hell and my head filled up with garbage and all I did was drink to get it to stop. Pretty sad because I had thought that was normal up until then.

JamalJ said...

It is a year later and there is still a shortage. Thanks Shire!