SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Adderall, a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, is a stimulant drug used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
As an amphetamine, it is a controlled substance that carries a high potential for abuse. It is also used by a large number of people living with ADHD, needed in order to maintain focus and concentration in daily life.
Right now, some patients are having trouble getting it.
Amanda Plaetz is a Pharmacist with Avera Health. She says that they’ve been dealing with a shortage of the drug since fall 2022. “We kind of got wind in the fall that this was going to be happening,” she said. “It is still continuing — it keeps getting pushed out by the manufacturers.”
The exact cause of the shortage is unknown, said Plaetz, noting that it could be due to difficulty in getting ingredients or even that the DEA has limited access.
Plaetz says that the pharmacy continues to order the drug when it is available, but that sometimes that means ordering different sized dosages, or tablet forms rather than the more common capsule.
“We make do with different doses — take 2 caps instead of 1 of a certain strength,” Plaetz said.
The shortage has caused an impact on patients.
“It does help people with ADHD, so that means it’s also helping them with their behavior; with their focus,” Plaetz said. “It is a stimulant — but it actually helps calm them; helps them focus in on the task that they need to do.”
Plaetz notes that this can be especially impactful for children in school settings, or for college students who are facing interviews or tests upcoming.
While there may not be Adderall available, Plaetz says there are a few alternatives.
“Sometimes we may have to change to a different drug if there’s no option of using different strengths,” Plaetz said. “There’s Vyvanse — it’s similar in that family — we’re able to get that right now.”
While Vyvanse is an expensive brand name, Plaetz says that in some cases pharmacies can get manufacturer coupons to help offset the cost of the drug.
If an alternative such as Vyvanse or even Ritalin is not available or acceptable, Plaetz says they may need to look at a different family of stimulants, such as methylphenidate.
In terms of filling your prescription, Plaetz notes that you may have options if your regular pharmacy can’t fill. “We do have other sites that order from a different wholesaler,” Plaetz said, referring to other Avera pharmacies. She said keeping an open dialog with your provider and pharmacist can help, as they may be aware of specific pharmacies that have stock, or may be able to ask pharmacies if they have stock.
Plaetz notes that you can reach out to pharmacies yourself to ask, but due to security measures associated with controlled substances, a pharmacy unfamiliar with you may be unwilling to tell you if they have the medication on-site. A practitioner, she says, may be more likely to get an answer.
“I would say not to give up,” Plaetz said. “Sometimes even with us pharmacies working together; we can kind of call around and see if we can get it.”
Plaetz says that while Adderall does have a shelf-life of more than a month, she does not especially advise stock-piling the drug, in part because of its status as a controlled substance.
Despite this though, she says some pharmacies may be willing to work with patients concerned about stock running out by refilling a little early when they know they have it, or by filling for a longer period of time, such as 90-days rather than 30 or 60.
“Sometimes we can do that, but we can’t always do it, just because we have to share it with all the other patients,” Plaetz said. “That’s just dependent on the provider and the pharmacy.”