Impact of Adderall shortage on students

Presented by PhRMA — TK


 The Big Story 

A shortage of the stimulant Adderall, commonly prescribed for ADHD, has gone on for more than a year, and the effects of this scarcity are being felt in classrooms across the U.S.


“[Students’] grades are suffering, they’re falling behind academically and they’re losing some motivation,” pediatric psychologist Parker Houston told The Hill.


In classrooms, Houston said schools are employing organization strategies like color-coded folders and ensuring strong communication to support students who rely on Adderall but may not have access to it.


The shortage was initially caused by a disruption at a manufacturing plant run by Teva Pharmaceuticals, the largest supplier of Adderall in the United States.


Shortages caused by isolated incidents generally resolve quickly, according to experts. 


The reason for the ongoing shortage is now attributed to heightened demand. Many pharmacies are left without supply of the drug and parents say they’re jumping through hoops to get their children their prescriptions.


Telemedicine flexibilities enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in more people being able to easily access controlled substances like Adderall, with the absence of required in-person appointments.


But more young adults are also turning to Adderall to help focus in college as well as in their first full-time jobs out of school.


LaTasha Perkins, a family medicine physician based in D.C., said she has noticed more and more college-aged students starting on Adderall. Part of it may be due to them figuring out their learning styles in the post-pandemic era.


The long-held understanding of Adderall use — that people diagnosed with ADHD as children age out of needing the medication — is also changing, and more people may be staying on the drug as they grow up.


“Even though you mature, there can still be some dysfunction when it comes to focus and hyperactivity. It just looks different in your college students and young adults,” said Perkins, noting some young adults who could benefit from Adderall may be self-medicating with caffeine or routines.


While it remains unclear when the shortage will end, Perkins is advising her patients to be mindful of how they use Adderall.


Some parents may want to hold off on giving their children a dose on the weekends. She also advises college-aged patients to avoid sharing the medicine with classmates. 

Welcome to The Hill’s Health Care newsletter, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi — every week we follow the latest moves on how Washington impacts your health.

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