The prescription drug Adderall is one of many critical drug shortages. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Drug makers are facing crippling shortages of raw materials, causing drug shortages nationwide. Adderall, a popular Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medication, is in dangerously short supply.

Number of shortages increasing

According to USA Today, the Food and Drug Administration had reported 180 drug shortages as of mid-August of 2011. The American Hospital Association reported in a survey that 82 percent of hospitals surveyed had delayed treatment of patients because of a drug shortage. There were 196 by the end of 2011, according to CNN.

A recently released Government Accountability Office report found that shortages increased by 200 percent from 2006 to 2010 alone.
The GAO found, according to the Wall Street Journal, that 68 percent of the drugs in short supply in that time were injection medications, many generic. Cancer medications were the most common class of drugs in short supply, followed by pain management and nutritional medications.

Supply of common drug critically low

Among other drugs, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Adderall, has been added to the FDA’s list of drugs in short supply, according to the New York Times. The drug, according to Reuters, is made in numerous configurations of release time, strength and also in generic and brand forms by numerous manufacturers.

It isn’t known how short supply is or how low supplies will dwindle in 2012, but a shortage of Adderall doesn’t bode well, as 9 percent of 5- to 17-year-olds are diagnosed with ADHD per year, according to Centers for Disease Control estimates. An estimated 4.7 percent of adults also suffer from the disorder, according to the Daily Mail.

In 2010, doctors issued more than 18 million Adderall prescriptions. The shortage of Adderall is also causing shortages of competing medication Ritalin. There were 51.5 million prescriptions written for ADHD medications written in 2010, according to the New York Times. ADHD drugs accounted for $7.42 billion in sales.

Active ingredients in short supply

Part of the problem is that the Drug Enforcement Agency regulates the active prescription ingredient in Adderall, a cocktail of amphetamine salts. The DEA will release only so much to manufacturers at any given time, which manufacturers say is part of the issue. The DEA contends its quotas are not a problem, though the agency increased the allotment to drug manufacturers, according to the Daily Mail.


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