NEWS

What You Need to Know About the Adderall Shortage

Adderall pills

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Key Takeaways

  • On October 12, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a shortage of the prescription drug Adderall, commonly used to treat ADHD. 
  • The shortage specifically affects the immediate-release version of the drug. 
  • While there is no estimate of when the shortage will end, medical professionals advise those having trouble getting the medication to speak to their doctor about alternatives.


There are six million children in the United States diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Of those, 62% rely on some kind of medication to help them through their everyday lives. But one of the most popular types of medicine is scarce, leaving some families scrambling for an alternative.

On October 12, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that there is currently a shortage of the immediate-release version of the prescription drug Adderall. That's the brand name for amphetamine mixed salts, the most common treatment for ADHD. Teva, one of the companies making the medication, has been experiencing constant manufacturing delays. Although others are producing the drug, the supply is not meeting the high demand. 

Some families who rely on Adderall are having trouble getting their prescriptions refilled at the pharmacy amid what Teva says is “historic demand” for the drug.

“It is possible that some people may encounter a backorder (intermittently) based on timing and demand, but these are only temporary,” a spokesperson for Teva says in a statement, “We are actively shipping both branded and generic Adderall to customers, and we expect inventory recovery in the coming months.”

The shortage is being reported specifically for the short-acting version of Adderall, as opposed to the long-acting form of the pill. The short-acting pill is an immediate-release type that takes effect sooner and usually must be taken multiple times a day. The long-acting version is absorbed by the body at a more gradual pace and is only taken once a day, on average.

For many people living with ADHD, especially children, the medication is vital to be able to perform activities of daily life, according to Dawn Brown, MD, the owner, and CEO of ADHD Wellness Center in Texas. Dr. Brown was diagnosed with ADHD while in the last year of her child psychiatry fellowship. She says this shortage can have an immense impact on affected families. 

This is something that people with ADHD need every day in order to be positioned to function well.

DAWN BROWN, MD

“I just want to express how important medication like Adderall is because this is not something that you can take as needed and do well,” Dr. Brown says. “This is something that people with ADHD need every day in order to be positioned to function successfully.”

Why Is There an Adderall Shortage? 

While Teva did not clarify the exact reason for the current Adderall shortage, many experts attribute it to an array of issues, like a recent boom in diagnosing ADHD and prescribing the drug. It could also be due to the pandemic-related labor shortage and a prime time of year for refilling. 

“There are a couple of hypotheses of why it's happening,” says Sulman Aziz Mirza, MD, the medical director of LouCouPsych. He says there are a few times a year when the demand is usually higher, back-to-school time being one of them. He also highlights recent investigations into the increase of telemedicine services prescribing medication at high rates. 

“So these two things basically combined, we've got more people prescribing [Adderall] more ways to prescribe [it], and then also the restarting with school and increased demand for [Adderall]. Then all of a sudden we have this situation where we're running out of supplies,” Dr. Mirza says. 

Dr. Brown also attributes the shortage to the time of year and the increase in telemedicine prescriptions. He adds while prescription manufacturers are continuing to churn out the pills, the requests have skyrocketed since the pandemic, which makes them harder to fulfill.

“They just can't meet the demand,” Dr. Brown explains. “So I think that's something we need to consider as well. They've been actually doing more because they've hired more laborers to make this medication and yet still can't come up with the demand.”

Who Is Affected by the Adderall Shortage?

ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions in children, and it affects their ability to focus and behave. Adderall helps these symptoms by targeting a brain’s neurotransmitters, explains the editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind, Amy Morin, LCSW

“Adderall increases certain neurotransmitters in the brain—dopamine, and norepinephrine,” Morin says. “The changes Adderall creates in the brain can improve overall functioning.”

Adderall increases certain neurotransmitters in the brain—dopamine and norepinephrine. The changes Adderall creates in the brain can improve overall functioning.

AMY MORIN, LCSW

If left untreated, Dr. Brown explains, ADHD is shown to have negative impacts on a person’s life, which is what makes early diagnosis and treatment so important. Dr. Brown says Adderall allows for more stability for people with ADHD. Not having it can be dangerous. She cites statistics that show students with ADHD have higher school dropout rates and are at higher risk for substance abuse and risky behaviors.

“When a child's ADHD is managed, they're going to do better in school,” Dr. Brown explains. “They're going to maintain friendships. They're going to have increased self-confidence and self-regulation. They're not going to be as distracted as they were without their medicines.”

When Will the Adderall Shortage End?

It is not clear when the current Adderall shortage will end. Teva gave a rough estimate of "in the coming months." Based on previous shortages, Dr. Brown and Dr. Mirza believe the shortage will likely last through the end of this year and possibly early into next year.

The FDA is continuing to monitor the supply of Adderall and help manufacturers resolve the shortage. The agency says it will continue to update its website with new supply information as it becomes available.

“This product is important to Teva because it is important to the patients who need it,” the Teva spokesperson adds. “We are fully committed to uninterrupted supply and continuing to manufacture and distribute as much product as possible each day. We are working closely with our manufacturing facility and the DEA to see what additional volume we may be able to support in the future.”

We are fully committed to uninterrupted supply and continuing to manufacture and distribute as much product as possible each day.

TEVA PHARMACEUTICALS

Are There Alternatives to Adderall?

Though the shortage can be worrisome for some families, there may be alternative options available in order to manage ADHD symptoms. Morin stresses it’s important to communicate any issues with your child’s doctor. 

“Parents can talk to their child's doctor to get proactive about what they can do,” Morin says. “The physician may prescribe an alternative medication or they may give information on how to source the medication reliably. They may also have advice on whether it's OK to skip doses or to change the dose in an effort to make a supply last.”

Other stimulants are sometimes prescribed to treat ADHD. Ritalin, for example, is another drug often given to children with ADHD. Both Adderall and Ritalin, and stimulants in general, are highly effective at managing symptoms.

“[Stimulants] are the gold standard of treatment for ADHD,” says Dr. Mirza. “People bring up options like therapy or other things like that. But the research has shown over and over again that the medication is the most effective treatment for ADHD in regards to reducing potential hyperactivity, increasing or reducing inattention, reducing impulsivity, those kinds of core symptoms of ADHD.”

Dr. Brown reiterates this shortage is for the fast-acting version of the drug. She says she'd consider having her patients use the alternative slow-release type if there was trouble with refilling a prescription. But, she stresses, the switch will not be the solution for every case. 

Parents can talk to their child's doctor to get proactive about what they can do.

AMY MORIN, LCSW

Dr. Brown says her patients have not had any issues, but if they did, she would suggest trying other pharmacies. Dr. Brown says she tends to try and stay away from major chain pharmacies as those are the places where shortages are more widely seen. 

“I'm actually suggesting that my patients consider going to a different pharmacy,” Dr. Brown says. “And when they do, I haven't gotten any problems.”

Dr. Mirza also proposes his patients shop around at different pharmacies if the drug is not available at their first stop. He’s also noticed that the awareness of a shortage is helping to navigate its effects better. 

“I think that we're seeing a lot of pharmacists who are aware of the situation,” Dr. Mirza says. “So when people are calling to say, ‘Hey, do you have generic Adderall XR, 20 milligrams, my normal pharmacy has run out,' for example, pharmacists are much more willing to say yes, we have it or no we don't. The onus is kind of put back on the pharmacist to kind of fill that gap.”

What This Means For

The FDA recently announced a shortage of a common drug that is used to treat ADHD. While the shortage of a necessary medication can be troubling, there are other alternatives if you have trouble refilling a prescription. Doctors recommend shopping around at different pharmacies, possibly opting for a non-commercial one. You can also speak to your child’s pediatrician or healthcare provider about dosage adjustments, or temporary drug swaps until the demand is met.

9 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Emily Nadal
Emily Nadal is a freelance writer specializing in pregnancy and maternal health. She holds a master's degree in health and science journalism from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. She also has experience working in television news at local stations in New York City.