Why is there a shortage of Adderall and other meds?


Adderall XR pills will be on display in 2023. Experts say drug shortages in the United States are rising, and there is no way to resolve them. 

Experts see no way to resolve the shortages of drugs such as Adderall in the United States. This can lead to treatment delays, medication changes, and other complications when filling a prescription.

Recent shortages have been caused by unexpected spikes in demand, manufacturing issues, and a tight supply of ingredients. This has put parents, doctors, and patients under stress. In the case of some drugs, such as stimulants used to treat ADHD, several factors have contributed to a shortage. It is difficult for doctors, parents, and patients alike to predict when this will end.

Long-standing shortages, especially of generic drugs, are a problem. Since the industry has consolidated, some manufacturers are less motivated to resolve shortages as generic drugs generate low profits.

Take a closer look at this issue.


According to the University of Utah Drug Information Service, 301 national drug shortages were active through this year’s 1st quarter. This is 49% more than the 202 drug shortages recorded in the first quarter of 2018.

Stephen Schondelmeyer is a professor at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. He said that patients might not feel the effects of drug shortages if doctors can use different medications or if other parts of the drug supply system mask the problem.

He said, “But now there are more shortages and they’re more visible.”

WHAT ARE DRUGS in Shortage?

In the fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a shortage of the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder treatment Adderall due to a manufacturing problem. This has continued and, at times, grown to include other stimulants which treat the condition.

Erin Fox, a researcher at the University of Utah Health, says this situation appears to be improving. The most popular extended-release dosages of this medication still need to be supplied.

FDA has also tracked a shortage in the diabetes treatment Ozempic that doctors prescribe to lose weight. According to IQVIA, the number of prescriptions for Ozempic – a drug that celebrities and others have endorsed on social media – has doubled from the summer of 2021 to over 1.2 million.

According to a Novo Nordisk spokeswoman, the drug is now available in all dosages at pharmacies across the country.

A spike in respiratory illness forced drugstore chains last year to limit the purchase of fever-reducing medicine for children. Around that time, there was also a shortage of amoxicillin.

According to a report by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, injectable drugs used in hospitals and clinics, such as IV saline and certain cancer treatments, are twice as likely to be affected by a shortage as tablets or topical treatment, according to this recent report.


A variety of factors causes many shortages.

Adderall’s manufacturing problems grew as the number of people taking Adderall increased.

During the pandemic, prescriptions increased as regulators allowed doctors to prescribe the medication without seeing the patient first. According to IQVIA, Adderall prescriptions and their generic equivalents increased by 20% between February 2020 and the end of 2018.

Adderall supply is further challenged when demand increases. The drug is controlled, so federal regulators restrict the supply yearly.

Some drugs may also have a price.

Ozempic, a drug for diabetes. Semaglutide is the same medication that’s sold under Wegovy for weight loss. Schondelmeyer said that the price per milligram for Wegoby is more than double what it would be for Ozempic.

Schondelmeyer stated, “they’ve had a rush on Ozempic because people don’t want to spend so much on Wegoby.”

Novo Nordisk’s spokeswoman, Allison Schneider, said the product price was unrelated to shortages. She attributed it to global supply and demand constraints.

Fox explained that another factor contributing to shortages is that medications like Adderall or amoxicillin are low-profitable, so companies have no incentive to store and make large quantities in case of a shortage.

She said that once a shortage begins with something you made just in time, it is easier to solve it once all suppliers return.


Treatment delays can harm patients with cancer, who are often time-sensitive.

Sometimes doctors are forced to prescribe alternative medications that may not be as efficient. This can also lead to medication mistakes if the doctor does not know the alternative medication.

Patients may also run out of prescriptions or have to search for a nearby pharmacy with enough stock to fill them.


Partly because measuring demand is difficult, it can be hard to predict when shortages will be resolved.

Mike Ganio is the senior director of pharmacy practices and quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. “But will that be enough?” he asked.

Conditions that could lead to future shortages are still present. The Senate expressed concern about excessive reliance on foreign sources in its report.

Most raw materials for American drugs are produced in factories in China and India. India limited exports of finished drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients made from these chemicals early in the COVID-19 epidemic to protect its domestic drug supply.

Deficiencies can persist for years. Patients can find it difficult to obtain reliable information. Fox stated that there is no requirement under the law for drugmakers to update the public.

The Senate report states that “no federal agency, private industry partner or other entity has complete visibility of the U.S. Pharmaceutical Supply Chain.”

Fox said the shortage of stimulants has been frustrating. The federal government claims that companies aren’t using their existing raw materials.