I was in CVS the other day waiting to fill my prescription for Dexedrine, when I overheard the guy in front of me being told they were out of Adderall. The pharmacy tech suggested he go to another store, but the guy said he’d been to every place in the city and couldn’t get Adderall anywhere. Fortunately, CVS did have Dexedrine, but the fact that there is a shortage of drugs for attentional issues is completely appalling and unacceptable in a supposedly first-world healthcare system.
The problem is that the Drug Enforcement Administration only allows a certain amount of Ritalin and Adderall to be produced because of the abuse potential, particularly by college kids who take the stuff like candy to stay up at night studying. The FDA, which monitors supply of the meds, is particularly distressed by the shortages and has tried to get the DEA to change its quotas. But the DEA is claiming there’s no problem, and that patients who encounter a shortage can just switch meds.
Ooh boy. I think we all know how that goes. Yeah, sure, just switch from Adderall to Ritalin–that’ll work. I remember the only time I tried Ritalin, my tongue swelled up and I ended up flat on my back in a CD store, having passed out with some weird allergic reaction. Adderall, however, was benign in terms of side effects for me. The DEA seems to be oblivious to the fact that children (who are the majority consumers of these drugs) can’t just switch around.
While there are more branded meds in supply, not everyone can afford them. This means people go without treatment, another devastating problem for kids (and for adults too, of course).
The article detailing all of this is by Gardinar Harris in the New York Times and can be found HERE.