Teva, the leading manufacturer of the stimulant Adderall in the US, has had problems keeping up with demand throughout 2022 which led them to report a shortage to the FDC in October that would last through the end of the year. This has since been extended to March 2023, with generic forms of the drug being the most heavily affected. 

Initially, the supply issues were attributed to labor shortages that affected their ability to keep up with the current demand for the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy-treating drug. However, in an interview with ABC News, a Teva spokesperson revealed that a significant rise in demand has been the primary cause of the shortage in the United States. 

What Has Caused the Increase in Demand?

While there is no definitive explanation for the sharp increase in Adderall prescriptions throughout the US, there are a variety of factors that are believed to play a role.

Diagnosis of ADHD, the primary condition that Adderall is used to treat, has been rising steadily each year for more than two decades. According to a 2019 study, the diagnosis rate in the United States doubled between 2007 and 2016. There has been an increase in acceptance of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis and treatment, especially during the pandemic.As a result, behavior that had previously been written off as distracted, hyper, or disruptive began being identified as the result of a condition instead of a personality trait, leading to more awareness and helping those suffering to seek an official diagnosis to receive help. 

More recently, there has been a 20-25% increase in Adderall prescription rates for the largest age group of 22-44 year olds from 2018-2021, which could be attributed to the January 2020 easing of regulations surrounding prescribing controlled substances through telehealth. This policy change has allowed new telehealth companies to be formed specifically to address ADHD and other mental health issues, making it easier than ever for patients to get a diagnosis and pharmaceutical treatment - whether they fit the criteria for diagnosis or not.

COVID-19 is another likely cause of increased ADHD diagnoses and Adderall use due to the negative impact that social distancing has on mental health. Isolative behaviors such as social distancing can contribute to comorbid conditions like anxiety, depression, and other forms of emotional distress that affect focus and contribute to increased ADHD symptoms. 

The introduction of online learning also presents a challenge to those with ADHD, particularly adolescents, because a greater number of distractions are present in the home environment compared to the classroom. If television, phones, and other distractions are available just a few steps away or in the other room, it becomes harder to focus on the lesson than it would be in a quiet, controlled environment that not all students can achieve at home. Plus, there is less active engagement and fewer opportunities for hands-on learning with content or lessons to help maintain the focus required to learn.

What To Do During the Adderall Shortage

If you’re one of the many people affected by the lack of Adderall available in the United States, you might be worried about finding a reliable way to address your ADHD or narcolepsy symptoms. Fortunately, there are alternatives available that you can use temporarily or permanently if you and your doctor find that they work well for you.

Name-brand Adderall tablets are not currently experiencing the same level of availability issues as the generic form, allowing you to make the switch if your insurance covers the prescription. Alternatively, certain extended-release formulations can be effectively substituted for your short-acting Adderall in many cases.

There are also alternatives to Adderall like Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Strattera which can achieve a similar effectiveness to your current prescription.