Marana twins with severe ADHD suffering amid nationwide Adderall shortage

KMSB News 9-10 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 8:10 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2023 at 8:11 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - A shortage in ADHD medication nationwide is causing big problems for millions of struggling patients.

Data from the analytics and research company IQVIA shows the demand for Adderall has risen nearly 27% in recent years. Prescriptions jumped from 35.5 million in 2019 to 45 million last year.

Some people said they have to wait days for their medication to be refilled while others are having to wait weeks.

Doctors said that isn’t too bad for those with mild ADHD.

But for one mom with twins diagnosed with severe ADHD in Marana, the shortage is impacting their lives. If it continues, Jennifer Paul said she doesn’t know what her family will do.

“Our twin daughters are seven and they’ve only been on medication for a year and a half. Before that was absolute hell,” Paul said.

Without that medication, Paul said her girls’ severe ADHD is debilitating. She said it not only impacts her family but also everyone the girls come in contact with.

“They’ve been expelled from multiple daycares, after-care, one school, and multiple times from regular school. We couldn’t do it anymore so we decided to go along with the doctor and put them on the medication,” Paul said.

She said that decision was life-changing, but having to wait days for a refill is too much to handle.

“We can’t go out, we can’t live our lives how we would want to. People don’t enjoy being around us and it’s rightfully so, but it’s hurtful,” Paul said.

The FDA lists eight manufacturers that have reported Adderall shortages, saying a demand increase and a shortage of an active ingredient are to blame.

Dr. Shad Marvasti, an associate professor at The University of Arizona College of Medicine, said that creates a trickling effect.

“When one medication for a condition like ADHD is short, at which it has been for Adderall since October, you start having some of the alternatives being utilized,” said Marvasti. “That in turn causes another shortage to occur. Then manufacturers have to catch up with demand and there’s usually a several-month delay in that.”

Pharmacies in southern Arizona said they’re having a hard time keeping medication on their shelves, and everyone is struggling.

“We’ve seen a lot of frustration from patients calling around. They may call and we have it then call a couple of days later and we don’t have it,” said Ocie Wilson, pharmacy director at El Rio Community Health. “It’s been frustrating for patients, it’s been frustrating for providers, just because they have to get a different strength and then ultimately it’s the patients that are struggling.”

For those people who can go a few days without the medication, doctors suggest prioritizing your medication for work or school days.

If you can’t, consider trying an alternative medicine in the meantime.