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There's a National Adderall Shortage & Here's What Parents Should Know

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed a widespread shortage of Adderall, the prescription drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, throughout the United States. But what does this mean for children and teens who need this medication?

On October 12, the federal agency issued a release detailing why Adderall is in short supply right now. Its primary manufacturer, the pharmaceutical company Teva, is experiencing “ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays.” Other companies also make variations of Adderall, but there is not enough overall supply to meet the current U.S. demand.

As The New York Times noted, Adderall contains the stimulant amphetamine and has been abused as a study aid by college students, so it is a controlled and highly regulated substance. This makes it especially challenging for pharmacies that normally stock Adderall to quickly switch to carrying a different version of the drug.

At this time, the FDA recommends that people who need Adderall — including children and teens with ADHD and their families — talk to their health care provider to “determine their best treatment option.”

This might include alternative therapies, such as an extended-release variation of the drug. Parents can also monitor the FDA’s website for updates on this shortage. (Teva has said it expects its inventory to recover from the delays “in the coming months.”)

ADHD impacts about 4 percent of U.S. adults and 8 percent of children, according to Dr. David Goodman, director of the Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center of Maryland. Common symptoms in children include hyperactivity, impulsivity, difficulty listening, and forgetfulness. Medications like Adderall are often recommended for children and teens with ADHD and can be massively helpful in managing symptoms, although some parents opt for non-stimulant interventions instead.

Many people with ADHD, including an estimated 40 percent of children, go undiagnosed and untreated, Dr. Goodman told The Times.

During the pandemic, providers like Dr. Goodman have noted an increased demand for Adderall. This has been linked to telehealth providers potentially over-prescribing the drug. It is also likely due to growing awareness about ADHD, and about how the condition can manifest differently in women and girls.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young boys are much more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls. This gender disparity isn’t because boys are naturally predisposed to ADHD; rather, girls tend to exhibit less disruptive symptoms, so their cases are often overlooked.

Before you go, check out the mental health apps we swear by for giving extra TLC to your brain:

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  • Posted on October 28, 2022