Nearly a year into ADHD drug shortage, many parents, adults are still struggling to find the stimulants

If you’ve had a hard time filling your Adderall prescription, you are not alone.

For the last year, millions of Americans who rely on stimulants to manage their ADHD symptoms have been struggling to find pharmacies that carry the medication.

Earlier this year, the National Community Pharmacists Association reported 97% of independent pharmacy owners were experiencing shortages of Adderall.

Dr. Suvrat Bhargave of The Center for Family Psychiatry in Tyrone says his ADHD patients are feeling the shortage, too.

"There’s at least two big factors that contribute to the impact of this shortage, and really it comes down to supply and demand," Bhargave says.

The FDA first reported a shortage of stimulant medications in October 2023, after one drug manufacturer experienced production delays and others produced only 70% of their allotted DEA quotas of the stimulants, which are controlled substances.

The FDA says the companies, who mainly produced generic forms of the medication, failed to make and ship as many as a billion doses of the medication.

This came as demand for ADHD medications surged during the pandemic, as more people sought help for attention disorders, and psychiatrists began treating patients and prescribing medication virtually.

"So, the diagnosis has gone up in many cases," Dr. Bhargave says. "It’s because you finally have people who are able to access good mental health professionals. But, in some cases, there is also a bit of a misdiagnosis as well. So, it really is a perfect storm between demand going up and supply going down."

The FDA says while some shortages are already being resolved, other stimulants may be in short supply until December.

Bhargave says he’s working with patients to find solutions.

"If this really has shown me to be their best medication among the things we’ve tried, then we have to get a little creative," he says. "Sometimes, with combining different doses that might be more available, we are able to get the same desired eventual dose of that medication."

But, Dr. Bhargave says, in most cases he and his patients have been able to find a treatment plan that may yield even better results that stimulants.

"It does mean talking through what they’ve tried before, what didn’t work before, what are some side effects they might be particularly worried about, that we might be able to work around again, especially now that we’ve got even better options," he says.