There’s a shortfall in the Adderall supply. Who knew? Mostly ADHD patients. It’s a popular choice for treatment of that common disorder.

Suddenly it’s harder to obtain. Pharmacies routinely run short. Patients and physicians wonder what’s going on.

Turns out this is not a new problem. The Washington Post brought up the issue some time ago. Here’s a link to their analysis.

An Adderall shortage has not let up. Here is why.

One quote in particular caught my eye:

“Nearly 40 percent of all prescriptions for stimulants, including Adderall, were based on telehealth visits last year, up from less than 2 percent before the pandemic…The rise in Adderall prescriptions was driven by adults 22 to 44 years old, for whom they increased 58 percent between 2018 and 2022… There were more adults receiving an Adderall prescription than those who had an ADHD diagnosis…”

Could this be related to abuse or addiction? I worried about that long before the pandemic became a reality. Adderall does have significant potential for abuse, after all. An example from way back in 2016:

Adderall Angst

It appears that in addition to the upsurge in telehealth prescribing, our current shortage relates to far more frequent prescribing of the medication for patients with the adult variant of ADHD.

That’s a controversial diagnosis. Some experts have complained that the criteria for adult attention deficit are overly broad and hastily applied, in the absence of consideration given to other possible factors.

As a result, they believe that too many adults have been prescribed Adderall, and that helps drive down the supply for other patients who may have greater need.

The Post quoted one expert: “The threshold for getting a prescription maybe has changed”.

We’ve seen something similar in the past with other medications for different disorders. In fact, we’re probably seeing it now, this time as a result of the publicity around semaglutide medicines (Ozempic et al) for weight loss — instead of its original use for diabetes control.

Back to the adult ADHD question: The Atlantic has a deeper dive into  the subject. If you’re not a subscriber, you may have to sign up for a free trial.

Adult ADHD Is the Wild West of Psychiatry

Article subhead: The Adderall shortage exposed a troubling gap in how doctors care for the disorder.

Might be worth a look. Meanwhile, I keep hearing about college students and people who work in the tech sector misusing Adderall, much as my generation misused benzedrine — to boost energy, stay up late to study, write more code, etc.

That could turn out to be a really bad idea.