[Chemical structure model courtesy of PubChem]

Demand for the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts) has skyrocketed in the past decade. In 2021, physicians prescribed the medication and its generic equivalents 41.4 million times.

Supplies of generic Adderall XR, however, remain scarce. Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Rhodes Pharmaceuticals, Par Pharmaceutical, Sandoz and Teva had the drug on backorder in late August, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

Labor shortages are partly to blame for the supply disruptions.

Initially marketed by Shire, Adderall is now part of Takeda’s drug portfolio. Takeda acquired Shire in 2019.

The drug’s patent expired in 2009. The drug first hit the U.S. market in 1996.

A 2015 review found psychostimulants such as Adderall led to cognition improvements in adults.

The DEA classifies Adderall and the related drug Ritalin as Schedule II drugs. The U.S. government has concluded that Schedule II drugs have a “high potential for abuse.”

The classification limits the amount of drug a single company can manufacture.

Adderall is currently not included in the FDA’s list of drug shortages. The drug is indicated for treating ADHD and narcolepsy.

Earlier in August, Bloomberg reported that hundreds of small pharmacies had trouble stocking the drug.

While psychostimulants are widely prescribed, scrutiny of those prescriptions has increased. Earlier this year, the DEA reportedly interviewed subjects at the online mental health startup Cerebral. As a result, the company announced it would stop filling prescriptions for Adderall and Ritalin for new patients beginning May 9.

Websites such as Cerebral, ADHD Online and Done Health have helped stoke demand for Adderall and related drugs as the pandemic has loosened restrictions on mail-order scheduled drugs.

Misuse of psychostimulants is common, according to MedicalNewsToday. The publication notes that roughly 5.1 million people in 2020 misused such stimulants.

The drug can also have withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, restlessness and mood changes.