ADHD Drug Shortage Expected to Continue Into 2012

Regulatory wrangling that has led to an ADHD drug shortage in the United States is expected to continue into 2012, meaning the pills will remain in short supply for the foreseeable future.

If you’ve ever been dependent on an ADHD drug to maintain a baseline level of attention for school or work, you probably realize what a serious situation the ADHD drug shortage creates. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appears to be caught in the middle- fielding hundreds of complaints each day from concerned patients- as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and drug manufacturers bicker over how much of the controlled substances fueling medications are truly necessary for the American populace.

It doesn’t help that the three entities have vastly different scopes and interests in maintaining a reasonable supply of each ADHD drug for patients in the US. While the drug manufacturers are concerned with marketing, distributing and selling the medications, the DEA is focused solely on preventing abuse- particularly in older students who believe abusing the stimulant drugs will increase their test scores. The FDA is busy tracking shortages and speaking with frightened patients who have been “almost constantly” unable to acquire their needed prescriptions due to manufacturing restrictions.

The New York Times details a “rare open disagreement” between the two federal agencies over the supply-demand issues spurring the ADHD drug shortage:

“We have reached out to the D.E.A. and told them that there are shortage issues,” said Valerie Jensen, associate director of the F.D.A.’s drug shortage program. “But the quota issues are outside of our area of responsibility.”

Still, Special Agent Gary Boggs of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control, said in an interview, “We believe there is plenty of supply.”

However, the Times concludes its piece with a quote from a psychiatrist that seems to make the entire debate a bit baseless. As the DEA digs its heels in and fails to recognize the very real effects of restricting medically necessary ADHD drugs, Dr. Alexander Lerman of Chappaqua simply muses:

“For the first time in my career,” Dr. Lerman said, “there is this enormous and mysterious scarcity of the basic product that is proven to work.”

Have you experienced difficulties due to the ADHD drug shortage? Should the DEA be inserting itself between doctors and patients?

[Image: Shutterstock]

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