Children and adults in the Delaware Valley are scrambling to find the ADHD medication Adderall, as shortages continue in pharmacies nationwide.
Pharmacist Robert Frankil said by working two or three different suppliers, he has had only sporadic shortages of Adderall and its generic versions. But he is getting many more calls than usual from new customers.
“I’ll hear it in their voice, and they’re desperate,” Frankil said. ” ‘Oh my God you have it, great, you’re the 10th pharmacy I’ve called,’ that sort of thing.”
Frankil owns pharmacies in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, professor of pediatrics at Cooper University Hospital, said there are not good numbers on the extent of the shortages, but she guesses thousands of South Jersey patients at her hospital have not been able to find the drug at all.
“This has been a nightmare for many families,” Feldman-Winter said.
Feldman-Winter has been prescribing a similar drug, but insurance companies often will not cover it, so some kids go without.
“The problem is that for our patients that are on Adderall all the time, they need it to function, not only in school but at home but in their social life,” Feldman-Winter said. “Disruption in their medication really disrupts their whole life.”
The reasons for the shortages are not entirely clear. Some point to strict government limits on the drug’s active ingredient, which is a controlled substance, paired with ever-rising demand for ADHD drugs. Others point to supply-chain and market issues.
Ruth Hughes, head of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, said the shortage has created a ripple effect in similar medications.
“This shortage started with the amphetamine mix salts, which is the generic of the Adderall. But now, as people have changed their prescribing practices because they had difficulty getting that, we’re now also seeing the shortage in the generic for Ritalin,” Hughes said.
Hughes fears the shortages will continue for months because of regulatory issues.
As of 2007, one in 10 school-aged children in Pennsylvania had been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate is higher in Delaware and slightly lower in New Jersey.