Learn more about what's really behind the Adderall shortage and when patients can expect this medication to become more widely available again.
Is Telehealth Causing an Adderall Shortage?
While telehealth ADHD treatment has experienced a surge in growth over the last few years, it still accounts for only a small fraction of the total number of people receiving ADHD treatment.
For example, according to diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), about 4.4% of adults in the U.S. have ADHD. According to the 2020 census, there are 258.3 million adults living in the U.S. That means that a rough estimate of the number of U.S. adults with ADHD is 11.3 million.
Meanwhile, the prevalence of ADHD among children in the U.S. is estimated to be around 7.2%. The 2020 census reported that about 73.1 million children live in the U.S., which places the number of children with ADHD at about 5.2 million.
When combining the numbers for children and adults, there's an estimated 16.5 million people in the U.S. with ADHD. The number of telehealth patients receiving online treatment for ADHD pales in comparison to these statistics. ADHD telehealth services like Done typically have a patient base — a tiny fraction of the total number of people in the U.S. who have ADHD.
In addition, telehealth services aren't any more likely to prescribe Adderall than in-person providers. ADHD treatment has to be personalized to the individual, so while Adderall might work well for one telehealth patient, another may need a different stimulant or a non-stimulant option to get the results they need.
It’s important to note that telehealth has also increased access for many people who previously experienced challenges in getting the ADHD care they need. For example, telehealth has helped reach individuals in rural areas who do not have local access to psychiatric providers that can diagnose and treat them. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth expanded to reach people who were quarantined at home or who did not want to risk exposure at in-person appointments. While this did create a larger base of telehealth patients, it also helped many people get life-changing ADHD treatment.
What Is the Cause of the Adderall Shortage?
There's no denying that there's a high demand for ADHD medications like Adderall. In fact, one issue that is amplifying the current shortage is a sharp increase in ADHD diagnoses in recent years. A growing awareness of ADHD has led more people to seek out treatment, including medications like Adderall.
But the number of people with prescriptions for ADHD medication isn't the main cause of the current shortfall in the Adderall supply. Instead, it's a problem on the supply side of the equation. The largest supplier of Adderall in the U.S., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, began to experience manufacturing delays and a reduced labor force over the last year. While Teva Pharmaceuticals was previously capable of keeping up with the demand, these issues have caused a backup in their production process. Similar issues have also plagued some of the smaller supplies of Adderall.
When Will Adderall Be Available Again?
This isn't the first time that an Adderall shortage has occurred. In 2011 and 2012, ADHD medication shortages developed due to the strained relationship between drug manufacturers and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Those issues eventually resolved themselves, and so will the current shortage.
In fact, the recent Adderall shortage may end sooner rather than later. The shortage is expected to last at least through the end of 2022, but many of the companies which experienced shortages in recent months now already have the medication available again.
That's great news for the millions of patients who take Adderall for their ADHD. If you're still having trouble finding Adderall at your local pharmacies, however, Done can help. Our patients get excellent care from a board-certified ADHD clinician, which includes treatments personalized to their individual needs. For a patient who does not have access to Adderall at the moment, our clinicians are available much more quickly, so you don't have to wait as long to talk to a provider about your situation. Our clinicians can help you locate a nearby pharmacy with Adderall, but if none are available, they'll work with you to find an alternative that meets your needs.
Whether you're worried about access to your ADHD medication, you want to know more about your treatment options, or you're curious about whether you even qualify for a diagnosis, Done is here to assist you. Take our one-minute online assessment to get started and we'll set up a virtual appointment for you with an ADHD clinician in a matter of days.