This major drug shortage scares patients

If you’re taking prescription drugs, chances are they play at least a somewhat important role in your life. And whether it’s to help manage a chronic illness or to keep your heart health in check, it’s not uncommon to have a pill bottle with your name on it. In data collected between 2015 and 2016, researchers found that 45.8% of the US population had used a prescription drug in the past 30 days, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in 2019. But while getting a refill is usually as easy as calling your pharmacist, a new report shows that a serious shortage of a drug is “scaring” patients. Read on to see which pills have been in short supply recently.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made shortages of everyday items like toilet paper or cleaning supplies an all too familiar sight. But while ongoing supply chain issues have created relatively minor inconveniences, they are also affecting vital products such as medicines.

According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), such shortages occur due to “manufacturing and quality issues, delays, and discontinuations” of certain drugs. The agency says it receives information from manufacturers and “works closely with them to prevent or reduce the impact of shortages.”

But since storage problems can sometimes become unavoidable, the FDA also collects and lists the drugs in short supply. The agency lists 125 drugs “currently unavailable in the United States, ranging from allergy and arthritis treatments to a blood pressure drug that doesn’t have many alternatives,” as of Oct. 4, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. .

Senior woman looking at prescription bottles
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Although not on the official list, a medicine that has become harder to find is Adderall, the drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Supplies recently became tight when Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the nation’s largest supplier of the drug, reported a labor shortage last August and placed it on backorder. Bloomberg originally reported.

Now the drug shortage begins to affect people who depend on it daily. In an October 4 report published by Vice, some described calling multiple pharmacies to locate supplies to no avail. Others, in difficult circumstances, have even considered sourcing medicines through non-traditional means.

“I don’t trust the black market. I don’t trust it with a thousand yard stick”, Ian Wrobela 33-year-old civil servant from Missouri, said Vice. “I’m just scared to try something different because I’ve been so used to what I’ve been given for so long,” he said, describing conversations with his doctor about switching medications.

Others have complained that they cannot fully function without using their prescription. “My life is turned upside down. My ability to be both at work and in my personal life as I am used to is compromised,” Pat Cassidya 37-year-old man from New Jersey who took Adderall for more than a decade, said Vice.

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Single 20mg capsule of Adderall XR, a mixed amphetamine salt stimulant used in psychiatric medicine to treat ADD, ADHD and narcolepsy, on a gray surface.
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Unfortunately, most signs indicate that there won’t be relief soon for those wait for the medicine. According to a survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association, more than six in 10 small pharmacies said it was difficult to get orders for Adderall last August, per USA today. And in late September, Lannett Co. and Par Pharmaceuticals, two other major makers of the drug, reported that there would be limited supplies generic extended-release versions of the drug, according to the University of Utah Pharmacy Services website.

Besides the recently diminished supply, the strain could also be affected by a recent increase in the number of people taking it. “In 2021, Adderall prescriptions increased to 41 million from 37 million the previous year. The increase in demand is linked to the ongoing pandemic, as more and more people suffer from anxiety,” Harold HongMD, a psychiatrist at New Waters Recovery in North Carolina, told Healthline in September.

The current shortage also highlights misconceptions about the drug and its usefulness for those taking it.

“We have always talked about the educational impairments due to ADHD, but we have failed to discuss the social implications,” David W. GoodmanMD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said Vice. “People become very adamant about their medication, not because they misuse the medication, but because they realize how important the medication is to their day-to-day functioning at work and at home.”

Along with feeling worse about not having access to the drug, patients who suddenly stop taking the drug may also experience withdrawal symptoms, Goodman says. These can include feeling irritable, a sudden increase in appetite, and feeling lethargic or a sudden lack of motivation.

In the end, many patients simply feel helpless because they cannot access their prescriptions. “The only thing we can do is just call and hope for the best, and that seems really unfair,” said Kristin, a 34-year-old Californian who wished to remain anonymous. Vice.

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research and health agencies, but our content is not intended to replace professional advice. Regarding any medications you are taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your health care provider directly.

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