LEOMINSTER — Across the nation millions of Americans continue to struggle with getting prescription drugs.
Prescriptions ranging from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medication to cancer treatment drugs are all in extremely low supply, leaving people in a daily struggle to find the medications crucial to their everyday lives.
In October 2022 the shortage of the popular ADHD medications Adderall and Concerta were first announced by the Food and Drug Administration on account of its high-demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report from the Senate, by the end of 2022 Americans were facing 295 active drugs that were in short supply, a record high since 2014.
Desperate to find what they need, some are driving long distances to out of town pharmacies in hope of getting their medications. Prescriptions specifically for ADHD were in particular high-demand during the COVID-19 pandemic for children.
David Beck, a pharmacist and owner of Westminster Pharmacy said, “There has been an uptick in utilization, more so in adults now. During the pandemic a lot of parents got to observe their children at home and approached their pediatrician to address their situations with ADHD and attention-deficit disorder” This issue can be indicative of a larger problem for America, misdiagnosis.
While other local pharmacies were reluctant to speak on the matter, Beck shared his experiences as an independent pharmacy owner. He said independent pharmacies may have better luck moving forward through the shortage because they are not contracted to one single distributor of medications, and if supplies run short they are left more mobile to seek out supply elsewhere.
Amphetamine salts, commonly referred to by its brand name Adderall, have experienced manufacturing delays. The FDA does keep an updated record and prediction of availability for amphetamine salts on their webpage. While the website shows April 2023 as being the estimated month of availability, the shortage continues today in June.
“[The Drug Enforcement Administration] is putting restrictions on how much pharmacies can purchase each month,” Beck said.
These shortages are causing patients to seek out other brands of their medication. However this simple switch can cause more problems for them, particularly when their insurance companies fail to cover the costs of brand name medications versus generic brand medications. Other brands may also not be as effective in treating symptoms for many patients.
With nearly 80% of manufacturing facilities being overseas, primarily in China and India, is it difficult to specify where the issue is arising, says the report issued from the Senate. Workplace shortages and accidental contaminations can cause all kinds of back-ups or stalls in this process.
“I am restricted as a pharmacy owner as to how much I can purchase. The wholesalers are under limitations and manufacturers are limited as to how much they can produce. Because of bad people misusing and abusing the drug.” Beck said.
Those patients unable to access their prescriptions are facing difficult decisions. They can try and find other options or go through withdrawals. Withdrawals will bring on a worsening of symptoms and sometimes entirely new ones. However, patients who decide to try other drugs to treat their condition may not experience any positive effects and only worsen their predicament. Being forced to quit these types of medications “cold turkey” can have adverse effects, leading to difficulty at the workplace, at school and or at home.