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Americans are facing shortages of several key drug treatments.

Some cancer patients are struggling to get chemotherapy drugs. Antibiotics are rare after a severe winter flu season. Medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are in short supply. Even Children’s Tylenol Has Been Hard To Find my colleague Christina Jewett wrote,

“This is, in my opinion, a public health emergency,” said Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Dr. Amanda Fr said.

Today’s newsletter will focus on the ADHD drug shortage, which is a reflection of the many problems with the widespread drug supply. The Food and Drug Administration first acknowledged the shortfall in October. Patients complain that they have to shop around at pharmacies to get their medicines, if they can’t find them at all. And without the drugs, many people say they can’t function.

Edward Dinola, a game programmer and designer, told the times that Adderall had made his sleep schedule fragmented and unpredictable since discontinuing the ADHD medication. After being without medicine for a week, he went to sleep at 7 in the morning one day. “Not having control over your own energy is like a curse,” he said.

The widespread shortage partly reflects supply chain problems for generic drugs, which make up 90 percent of prescriptions. But the ADHD drug shortage is more widespread in that it has also affected brand-name products like Adderall. This has left more people without the medicines they need.

One reason for the ADHD drug shortage: The use of such drugs has increased in recent years. From 2020 to 2021, prescriptions rose by more than 10 percent in several age groups, A recent CDC study found,

Why? Experts point to the collision of two recent trends in the US: growing acceptance and acceptance of mental health issues, and policy changes brought on by the Covid pandemic that increased the use of telemedicine.

First, activists and policy makers have for decades pushed Americans to take mental health issues more seriously—to view them not as moral failings or character flaws, but as health problems that need to be treated. Needed.

ADHD is an example of this acceptance. For a long time experts believed it mostly affected teenage boys. In recent years, activists and patients have argued that ADHD may be a lifelong condition and is underdiagnosed and treated among girls and adults. Despite some criticism that ADHD is already overdiagnosed in boys who are treated with potent, potentially dangerous stimulants, their view has found ground.

Second, telemedicine got a big boost during the pandemic, as policymakers and medical facilities tried to limit in-person doctor visits. The shift not only allowed existing patients to continue receiving treatment, but also allowed treatment for new patients who may not have previously traveled to a doctor’s office or hospital.

These two trends worked together to increase the demand for ADHD drugs. As more people began to take their mental health more seriously, they had more access to treatment. So got more on the drugs for adhd

Beyond demand, several issues have potentially disrupted the supply chain. Drug companies claim that government-set quotas have constrained supply, although the Drug Enforcement Administration has said that companies have not fully used what they have. some pharmacies also argue Stricter regulations for opioid painkillers have extended to other drugs as well, making it harder to get the supplies they need.

For generic drugs, there is a more systemic problem. Companies are under constant pressure to offer the lowest prices, and they often cut corners to reduce costs and keep prices down. This leaves them unprepared to increase supply when, for example, demand increases.

All of these factors are probably playing some role in the ADHD drug shortage, said Erin Fox, a pharmaceutical supply chain specialist at the University of Utah. But because much of the drug supply chain is opaque, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going wrong.

Lack of transparency is a problem not only for ADHD drugs but for other drug shortages. If the public and policy makers don’t know what’s going wrong, they can’t help find solutions.

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