Which popular ADHD drug is in short supply, and why

adderall xr
Wikimedia Commons
adderall xr
People with ADHD scrambling to deal with shortage of generic Adderall XR
Wikimedia Commons

(CBS) A popular ADHD pill is in short supply, and that has people who depend on the drug scrambling for solutions.

"It's a huge inconvenience," Erin Fox, manager of the drug-information service at the University of Utah Hospital & Clinics, told the Wall Street Journal. "Parents and patients are running around and calling pharmacies to see who has their product."

The product in question is the generic form of the popular medication Adderall XR.

What caused the shortage?

Drug manufacturers are playing the blame game. Shire Pharmaceuticals, which makes Adderall XR, has been accused of failing to provide enough of the drug to the generic makers, according to ABC News. Shire says the Drug Enforcement Administration caused the shortage by delaying the release of extra supplies - over fears that the drug, which has a potential for abuse, might wind up in the wrong hands. Not true, says the DEA. 

Whatever the cause of the shortage, it's got people with ADHD worried.

"Oh gosh, I don't know how I would function," Becky, a 52-year-old generic user from Oshkosh, Wis., told ABC News. "If I didn't have it, I probably wouldn't get up out of bed. I'd be so confused and my mind would be racing."

Shire says new supplies of the drug are expected later this month, the Wall Street Journal reported. In the meantime, some patients are being forced to buy the more costly brand-name version of the drug, and some are simply stopping their medication altogether.

But there may be other options. Timothy MacGeorge, of the ADHD advocacy organization Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), suggests contacting the manufacturer directly to help locate a pharmacy with the drug in stock, calling your doctor to see if he/she has any free samples, or asking the doctor if another available ADHD medication can be used instead.

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.

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