The economics behind the Adderall shortage: Why low prices lead to scarcity

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On October 12, 2022, the FDA confirmed what many patients with attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) already knew: There was a shortage of the immediate-release formulation of amphetamine mixed salts commonly known by the brand name Adderall. The implications of this announcement have rippled across the United States, affecting scores of patients reliant on the medication. More than six million adolescents in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the CDC. In addition, another eight million adults, or roughly 5% of Americans, have the condition.

A dramatic drop in prescriptions

According to data from Definitive Healthcare, Adderall prescriptions fell 24% in January 2023, marking the largest month-over-month drop in more than two years.

Definitive Healthcare derives this data from their ClaimsMx product, which collects and updates information mon…

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Making sense of the Adderall shortage

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In the latter part of 2022, a widespread shortage of Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) left millions of patients to contend with withdrawal symptoms or find an alternative treatment strategy. 

A Sermo survey found that about half of 348 physicians had encountered patients dealing with the Adderall shortfall.  

More than eight out of ten, 82%, were concerned about the impact of the shortage on adult patients’ quality of life, jobs and relationships. Slightly more, 87% of physicians were worried about the effects of the shortage on children with ADHD and their parents. 

Reasons for the Adderall shortage

Making sense of the situation remains challenging. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which limits the production of Adderall and its generics, is concerned that aggressive marketing practices contributed to the shortage, according to W…

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As Adderall shortage persists, many doctors are concerned

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Supplies of the ADHD drug Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) remain limited, forcing millions of patients to either search multiple pharmacies, ration their medication, seek alternatives or deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Half of the physicians have directly witnessed the Adderall shortage in their practices, according to a recent Sermo survey of 348 physicians.

Demand for Adderall is increasing. IQVIA notes that Adderall prescriptions jumped 10.4% in 2021 over the prior year.

Also complicating matters is the fact that Adderall is a Schedule II drug, which means that the DEA limits the quantities of the drug manufacturers can produce.

COVID-19-related labor shortages have also disrupted production. The biggest U.S. supplier of the drug, Teva (NYSE:TEVA), has blamed labor shortages related to the packaging of Adderall for the shortage. Novarti…

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Adderall shortage could persist for remainder of 2022

[Image courtesy of Benjamin Vincent Kasapoglu via Wikimedia Commons]

Generic versions of the Takeda’s (NYSE:TAK) ADHD drug Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) remain in short supply in October after some manufacturers predicted in September that supplies of the drug would stabilize.

Teva (NYSE:TEVA) recently disclosed that it could struggle to supply the drug for the next two to three months. However, the company is “producing and distributing as much as possible, as quickly as possible,” according to Teva spokesperson Kelley Dougherty.

Novartis (NYSE:NVS) subsidiary Sandoz has also acknowledged having a generic Adderall shortage. Sandoz is the second biggest manufacturer of the drug.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that Sandoz had supply problems with both the drug’s extended- and immediate-release versions.

Some patients have had to wait multiple months to…

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