Not enough to stay focused

Malaki Lingg, Assistant Web Editor

In October 2022, the FDA announced an oncoming shortage of Adderall, Adderall LR, Adderall XR and its generic varieties. Adderall is the combination of two stimulants — amphetamine and dextroamphetamine — used to improve focus, attention and concentration in those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

The shortage has been affecting millions of patients who rely on the drug to manage their symptoms of ADHD. The problem has been attributed to increasing manufacturing constraints and disruptions for various pharmaceutical companies.

The primary cause of the shortage has been a lack of the materials required to synthesize amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. The production of Adderall relies heavily on imports of raw materials from overseas, most notably from China. Though in the past few months, China has been undergoing a growing health crisis leading to a number of supply chain issues. Disruptions such as plant shutdowns and delays in transportation have greatly damaged the amount that American pharmaceutical companies can synthesize.

With shortages ongoing, there are significant impacts on patients who rely on the drug to manage their ADHD. Patients have reported difficulty filling prescriptions, with some pharmacies having run out of the drug entirely while others ration them only to those receiving refills. The lack of the drug is resulting in a growing number of those who take it being switched to other medications like Vyvanse or deciding to remain unmedicated. 

Those diagnosed with ADHD are pressured into taking medication to improve their performance in school, and while the medications are useful, the lack of them is also debilitating. The symptoms of ADHD are exacerbated when going through withdrawals alongside side effects such as depression, irritability and mood swings. These medications fix our brains’ dopamine issues and the difficulty in receiving these medications is downright cruel. It is like giving those with the disorder a tool to help and then taking it away, essentially giving them a handicap.

 The shortage comes as a rude awakening to those diagnosed with ADHD. While the pharmaceutical industry grosses approximately half a billion annually, they can leave American citizens without medication. Constraints due to supply chain issues are understandable, but a nearly five-month shortage of a “life-changing” medication is unethical. The American healthcare system forces us to take these meds to improve our focus and our lives but then cannot come up with a solution when they run out. Nobody should have to ration their medication.