Drug manufacturers agreed to increase the production of Adderall and other stimulant medications in response to the ongoing shortage, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says.
Seventeen out of 18 relevant manufacturers informed the agency that they will step up the production of stimulant medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin, according to a Friday letter addressed to the public. It remains unclear when the medications will reach pharmacy shelves.
Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine) and other stimulants are Schedule II controlled substances, meaning they have a high potential for abuse and cause psychological or physical dependence. Therefore, the DEA sets limits on how much of these medications the drug makers can produce per year.
In 2022, manufacturers did not meet their annual production quotas, resulting in a shortfall of one billion doses that could have been produced but were not made or shipped. The data for 2023 showed a similar trend, the DEA letter reads.
The DEA has recently changed quota regulations to reduce the amount of drug manufacturers must keep in inventory and to make it easier for manufacturers to relinquish their quota allotments if they cannot produce a drug.
Earlier this year, the agency revised regulations to allow patients to transfer electronic prescriptions from one pharmacy to another without returning to their doctor.
"DEA is committed to ensuring that patients who need stimulant medications have access to them and to ensuring that these drugs are being prescribed thoughtfully and responsibly, and we will continue working with our partners inside and outside of government to do so," DEA Administrator Anne Milgram writes in a letter.
Stimulant medications are usually prescribed to children and adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition affecting millions of Americans. As the ADHD diagnosis rates are rapidly increasing, so is the demand for stimulants: from 2012 to 2021, the overall dispensing of these medications rose by 45.5% in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic may also have played a role in increasing the demand. During that time, the DEA relaxed telehealth regulations, allowing people already on Adderall and those who were new to it to receive prescriptions without in-person appointments.
Last October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially declared a shortage of ingredients used to manufacture Adderall.
Failure to provide children with ADHD medications may result in worsening symptoms that may be difficult for them and their caretakers to manage, experts say. Moreover, children struggling with completing tasks they are used to doing may become anxious or depressed as a result.
Although most manufacturers agreed to step up the production of stimulants, the DEA does not have a time frame for when these medications will be accessible in pharmacies.