Vyvanse Bridges the Gap Amid Adderall Shortages

As a nationwide Adderall shortage continues, generic versions of Vyvanse could help people with ADHD access the treatment they need.

To counteract the ongoing Adderall shortage, Vyvanse — recently approved in generic versions by the FDA — may offer options for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or binge eating disorder (BED) who are finding themselves in short supply of their medication.

But will generic versions of Vyvanse help alleviate the ADHD drug shortage? To find out more, Healthnews asked Jamie Winn, PharmD, the Medical Director at Universal Drugstore, to answer some of our most pertinent questions about the Adderall shortage and whether generic Vyvanse will help.

Q: Why is there an Adderall shortage?

A: Over the last 10 years, the number of prescriptions for stimulants has increased by over 45% in the United States. Specifically, over the last year, there has been a shortage of generic Adderall, which led some doctors to switch their patients to Vyvanse. This caused an onward impact of Vyvanse, then becoming short in supply (since June of this year).

Suppliers cannot quickly meet the demand for ADHD medications once a shortage hits, as the ingredients are tightly controlled by regulations. Amphetamines are flagged by the FDA for their high potential for substance [misuse].

Q: What are patients experiencing because of the shortage?

A: A recent example we have seen is that children with ADHD who returned to school after the summer break may have been left without their treatment. For children who rely on drugs like Adderall and Vyvanse to help concentrate during their studies, this can have a real effect on performance and overall well-being in class.

For many adults, the shortages and lack of access to these drugs can be hugely detrimental to their work and home life and can put a strain on relationships and mental health.

Q: What is Vyvanse?

A: Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) and Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine) are both stimulant drugs called amphetamines, which work by raising levels of chemicals in your brain [called] dopamine and norepinephrine. These chemicals can help you focus and control your impulses, which is why Vyvanse is an effective treatment for both ADHD and binge eating disorders.

Q: How will generic versions of Vyvanse help ease the Adderall shortage?

A: With the FDA now approving 15 manufacturers to make their own version of Vyvanse capsules and chewable tablets, this will ease the shortage and help over one million Americans with accessibility. The option for generic versions gives patients more options to choose from when looking to treat their ADHD or binge-eating disorder.

Q: When do you expect generic Vyvanse to hit store shelves/online pharmacies?

A: It was reported that drugmakers began shipping generic versions of Vyvanse on August 31, which is promising news. Call your local pharmacy to see if they have it in stock or if they can order it so that it is on the shelf before you run out of medication.

Q: Is the drug's cost expected to be lower than the brand name Vyvanse? If so, how much lower?

A: Generic Vyvanse drugs offer more options, which improves the affordability of a highly demanded drug. Supplier competition will [also] drive the cash price down.

While it is hard to tell right now how much cheaper the generics will be, there should be cost savings. And because the cost of medications can vary by hundreds of dollars in the same city, it is best to check with your local pharmacy to see what their price of generic Vyvanse will be.

Q: Will insurance cover generic Vyvanse?

A: With so many generics hitting the market, it is more likely that your insurance will cover generic Vyvanse, and it will be at a lower copay than the branded version without requiring prior authorization. Many insurances may cover branded Vyvanse through the end of the year, but it is unlikely they will continue it after this time.

The coverage and cost will vary based on the insurance company, so you should contact your individual health plan for more information.

Q: How will people access generic Vyvanse?

A: Depending on how the doctor writes your prescription, it can be as simple as asking the pharmacy to dispense the generic. If it is specified as "dispense as written," you may need a new prescription to get the generic, in accordance with your local and state laws.

As a potential solution to the Adderall shortage, Vyvanse in its generic forms may be a valid option for some people with ADHD or BED. However, because generic versions of Vyvanse might not be the best treatment choice for everyone, people with either condition should talk with their healthcare provider to determine if it's right for them.

Talk with their doctor about any questions or concerns regarding generic Vyvanse prior to filling their prescription.

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