5 ways to protect yourself from the ADHD medication shortage

Don't get caught short by an ADHD medication shortage
Don't get caught short without ADHD medication

It’s been nearly a year since we first started hearing about ADHD medication shortages and it looks like the end is not coming soon enough.

When the shortages were first reported, all parties thought it would be a short-term problem.  But now apparently the problem is getting bigger, not smaller.

Last week CHADD published an editorial outlining the reasons for the shortages (essentially the DEA makes a “guess” each year about how much production to allow of the controlled ingredients used in ADHD drugs.  Hint: they guessed wrong.)  Short acting ritalin prescriptions seem to be most at risk for shortages at this time.

Plan ahead!  The Short Term Outlook is not good:

The medication production cycle is 8 to 12 weeks long and on top of that the DEA application process is long and cumbersome.  Thus there is a significant time lag between the identification of a shortage and its correction.  This year it looks like the shortages will not be resolved until next spring.

According to CHADD, which has following this issue closely, “Many of the companies that manufacture the short acting stimulant medications report they have no inventory left or limited inventory… it is unlikely that the 2012 DEA approved medications will get to market until March at the earliest.”

What can you do to protect yourself?

  1. Be sure to order your medication early. Don’t wait until you take your last pill to take your prescription to the pharmacy.
  2. Schedule a reminder for yourself to bring your prescription in for a renewal 1 week before it runs out.
  3. Make friends with your pharmacist.  If you do they’ll give you tips about what works best for their particular pharmacy.
  4. Need other ideas?  Check this article for more tips.
  5. Take the CHADD medication survey.  CHADD has been organizing an advocacy group to address this issue with the FDA, DEA and Congress.  At this time the group includes  the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and patient advocacy, clinician and pharmacy related associations.  The information you provide on the survey will be helpful to this group as they work to help create a solution that avoids shortages in the future.

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