When it comes to getting your medications, you might opt for a mom-and-pop pharmacy, but chances are you’re loyal to one of two more mainstream options. CVS and Walgreens are two of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., providing prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines to millions of people across the country. But regardless of which of the two you frequent, if you’re going for one medication in particular, you may be out of luck, as both CVS and Walgreens are struggling to keep one drug in stock. Read on to find out about the latest medication shortage you need to be aware of.
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Medication shortages are not a new problem, but they’re certainly a serious one. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a searchable database to inform Americans about drugs facing shortages, which it updates daily. As of now, the FDA indicates that there are 124 different medications in short supply in the U.S., per a compilation by Becker’s Hospital Review.
“Drug shortages can occur for many reasons, including manufacturing and quality problems, delays, and discontinuations,” the FDA warns. “Manufacturers provide FDA most drug shortage information, and the agency works closely with them to prevent or reduce the impact of shortages.”
A popular medication used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is becoming harder to get at CVS and Walgreens, Bloomberg reported on Sept. 15. According to the news outlet, Adderall is facing a major shortage across the U.S. Bloomberg said it spoke to half a dozen patients in several states, including California, Indiana, and Michigan, who said they tried to get Adderall at CVS or Walgreens pharmacies in August and September only to be told that the medicine was out of stock.
Anthony Anderson, a 34-year-old special education teacher at a Michigan high school, told the news outlet that he’s been without his Adderall since Sept. 6. Anderson, who has been taking the medicine for 15 years to treat his ADHD, said he last called Walgreens on Sept. 14 and was told that they might not have the medication available until early October. “This is a huge issue for me,” he said, noting that it is extremely difficult for him to focus without taking Adderall, a medication that is meant to be taken daily by those who use it.
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While the FDA does include Adderall on its Drug Shortage List, it has been marked as “Resolved.” “A drug receives Resolved status when the Drug Shortages Staff (DSS) determines that the market is covered, based on information from all manufacturers,” the FDA explains.
But both CVS and Walgreens confirmed that they have not always had the ADHD medication available for customers, Bloomberg reported. “There are supply chain challenges with this drug,” Rebekah Pajak, a spokesperson for Walgreens, told the news outlet. She added that the supply issues are affecting both types of Adderall: instant-release and extended-release.
For its part, CVS admitted to some ongoing struggles, but company spokesperson Matthew Blanchette told Bloomberg that CVS pharmacies are still able to fill Adderall prescriptions “in most cases.”
Issues with Adderall supply initially started with a labor shortage at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., according to Bloomberg. Teva is the top seller of Adderall in the U.S., so this prompted a reduced supply of brand-name and generic instant-release versions of the medication. The news outlet reported that soon after problems arose at Teva, three other major companies—Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc., Rhodes Pharmaceuticals LP, and Sandoz—all had generic extended-release Adderall on backorder as well.
Two Walgreens pharmacy workers in the Midwest told Bloomberg that AmerisourceBergen Corp, a pharmaceutical distributor used by the company, had been out of several Adderall dosage amounts in their area. “We continue to work with our customers and pharma partners to manage the available supply of Adderall,” AmerisourceBergen spokesperson Lauren Esposito told the news outlet, but declined to speak directly to Adderall availability in the Midwest.
At the same time, Adderall is seeing record-high demand, which is also contributing to the shortage, Bloomberg reported. According to the news outlet, this increased demand has been driven by telehealth startups—which rose in popularity during the pandemic—that have made it easier for consumers to obtain an ADHD diagnosis and Adderall prescription without having to make an in-person visit. Since then, many of these prescriptions startups have gotten serious backlash, and some like Cerebral Inc. have stopped prescribing controlled substances, including Adderall, as a result.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you’re taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.