Mind the gap: What is causing the ongoing ADHD drug shortage?

Market Access
Two wooden pieces either side of a gap

Since late 2022, medications for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, have been in a shortage in the United States and the UK. What began as a paucity of long acting medications, specifically Adderall in the US and Methylphenidate prolonged-release capsules in the UK, has snowballed into an ongoing shortage of nearly every ADHD medication as patients scramble to access prescriptions they can fill.

It’s only one of many drug shortages currently affecting patients – as of writing, the FDA is tracking more than 300 – many of which involve life-saving and life-sustaining medications. But the ADHD medication shortage is notable for its persistence, its unique affect on patients, and the ambiguity around causes and potential solutions.

The impact of missing medications

ADHD affects as many as 10% of children in the United States and about 2.5% of adults, both in the US and globally. That number could be higher as adults, particularly women, often go undiagnosed.

In those patients, medication allows them to focus and perform in work and school and to avoid accidents that can be caused by distraction or lack of executive function. If not life-sustaining, it’s at least quality of life sustaining.

“The consequences of not being on your medication are very much like the consequences of not being able to get glasses for a couple of months,” Dr David Goodman, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told Deep Dive. “Imagine that you have blurred vision and you wear glasses, and then somebody steps on your glasses and you can’t get your glasses for two months. How well are you going to function? You’ll muddle through, but you’re clearly not going to function.”

Read the full article in pharmaphorum's Deep Dive digital magazine