A large number of high school students have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and rely on medication to help alleviate symptoms of ADHD. Some of the most common medications used to treat ADHD are in a shortage, still, as the school year continues.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a shortage of Adderall on Oct. 12, 2022. Then, other drugs like Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin, Vyvanse and numerous generic equivalents of these drugs are now in short supply, too.
The cause of the shortage stems from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stating that companies have enough materials to keep producing. However, drugmakers have tried to appeal for more materials because of the increase in demand from increases in ADHD diagnoses. The reason for the caution is because most ADHD medications are Schedule II controlled substances which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
“Especially since the past opioid crisis, I imagine they’re [the DEA] tightening down with all medications of that class,” science teacher Coleman Mackie said. “It’s their [the DEA’s] job to prevent abuse and overuse from happening, but it ends up affecting genuine users.”
When untreated, ADHD can cause impulsive behaviors and issues with skills such as organization and time management- all of which are vital skills in the classroom. Untreated symptoms can lead to poor school performance, resulting in students having to find treatment through stimulants such as caffeine, doing behavioral therapy or even rationing their medication.
“The shortage has made it hard to get my prescription for my ADHD medicine,” Anonymous said. “It often isn’t available weeks after it has been called in. Over the past year, I’ve had to pick and choose days to take my medicine when it is running low because of how long the process of getting medicine takes.”
Since the demand of ADHD medications are increasing and the supply remains the same, the price is increasing as well, which leaves many families without the means to get medication. To combat this, generic versions of popular ADHD medications are being pushed out and recommended more than their name-brand counterparts.
“The generic for Vyvanse has come out recently and that should be helpful in getting more people their medication,” Science Department Chair Ariel Evans said. “It is too bad that they [drug companies] can’t produce medication that people need because of drug scheduling.”
Students who are struggling to figure out alternatives or navigate around pharmaceutical issues can talk to Nurse Snow or their pharmacies to find ways to work around the shortage.