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Psychiatrist offers insight on ADHD medication shortage

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A medical expert from the Midwest is offering some perspective on a national problem: the ongoing shortage of medication for ADHD.

The nationwide drug shortage affects millions of children, teens, and adults in the United States diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a neurodevelopmental disorder that often causes difficulty paying attention and controlling impulses and increases hyperactive behavior.

In October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed a shortage of name-brand and generic Adderall, placing most of the blame on manufacturing delays.

Still, some medical experts say supply and demand are also to blame; in February, FDA Public Affairs Specialist Jim McKinney told CNN that the shortage is now “demand-driven” in addition to an increase in ADHD diagnoses following the pandemic.

According to Dr. Greg Mattingly, a licensed psychiatrist at Washington University St. Louis, medical professionals are now exploring other patient treatment options.

Some, including Mattingly, suggest that alternative treatment options — such as once-a-day, long-acting stimulants like Vyvanse and Concerta — could be a better solution.

“It’s led to a shortage in short-acting stimulants, particularly Adderall. The good news is that the field is trying to move away from short-acting stimulants. Short-active stimulants work, but you have to take them multiple times a day, and they have a higher risk of abuse, misuse, or diversion. So we were already moving away from the short stimulants. I think this shortage right now of short-acting, and stimulants will increase our use of those once-daily, long-acting medicines that may be a better treatment option for some of your symptoms.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends medication as one foundational treatment for ADHD, along with therapy and lifestyle changes to help people better manage their symptoms.