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Shortages of Adderall, other ADHD drugs expected in 2012: Report

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Adderall XR Wikimedia Commons

(CBS) Adderall and other stimulant drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be in short supply in 2012, according to a new report.

PICTURES: 15 signs you have adult ADHD

Multiple manufacturers have said they don't have enough ADHD drugs to meet patients' demands. The shortages are "widespread across a number of states" and the effects are "devastating" for children, the New York Times reported.

"I am very concerned about the future," Ruth Hughes, chief executive of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), told Reuters. "No one seems to have much inventory to get us through the months ahead. Someone needs to own this problem and take the initiative to fix it."

What's caused the shortage? Pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. government are playing the blame game.

The drug manufacturers point to the Drug Enforcement Administrations' quota on how much of the drug's active physical ingredient (API) manufacturers can get each year. The quota is designed to prevent the stimulants from getting into the wrong hands where people can stockpile or sell them illegally. Adderall and other stimulants are sometimes used illegally by students to get high or gain an edge in studying.

"Our production facilities are currently running at maximum capacity for Adderall utilizing all available API," Teva Pharmaceutical's spokesperson Denise Bradley, told Reuters. Teva manufactures generic forms of shorter-acting and extended released Aderall. "The catalyst for the problem is the quota system, not the business."

The DEA disagrees, with officials saying that since high-priced versions of the pill are still available, there's no real shortage. The agency suggests any disruption in supply is caused by the drug manufacturers.

"Any shortage of these products is therefore a result of decisions made by industry regarding manufacturing or distribution," DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno, told Reuters.

The FDA openly disagrees with the DEA's strict quotas, the Times reported, and questions whether the limit allows manufacturers to choose to make more expensive versions of the pill than cheaper generics, creating "supply and demand imbalances."

The shortage is nothing new for some people with ADHD. Patients have been scrambling to find generic versions of extended-release Adderall since May, CBS News reported.

ADHD causes a number of symptoms, including distractability and difficulty sitting still and focusing. It's believed to affect about 10 percent of American children between the ages of four and 17, as well as 4 percent of adults. According to the Times, doctors wrote 51.5 million prescriptions for ADHD drugs in 2010.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on ADHD.

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