(Reuters) – A shortage of Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, shows little sign of easing as manufacturers struggle to get enough active ingredient to make the drug and demand climbs.
Adderall, a stimulant, is a controlled substance, meaning it is addictive and has the potential to be abused. The Drug Enforcement Administration tightly regulates how much of the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) can be distributed to manufacturers each year.
The system is designed to prevent the creation of stockpiles that could be diverted for inappropriate use. Adderall and other stimulants are popular with students who may not have ADHD but are seeking to improve their test scores.
The DEA authorizes a certain amount of the API in Adderall – mixed amphetamine salts – to be released to drugmakers each year based on what the agency considers to be the country’s legitimate medical need.
Increasingly that estimate is coming into conflict with what companies themselves say they need to meet demand for the drug, which is reaching all-time highs. In 2010, more than 18 million prescriptions were written for Adderall, up 13.4 percent from 2009, according to IMS Health, which tracks prescription data.
Concerns are now rising among patient groups and doctors that the shortages seen in 2011 will continue into this year. Many orders remain unfilled, manufacturers say, and it may take several months before ingredient authorized under the new 2012 quota can be turned into new product.