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Dr. Kacir's ADHD Blog

Congressmen investigate ADHD drug shortage

CQ Roll Call, a subscription service reporting on congressional activity reported that 4 House Democrats wrote inquiries to the DEA, Shire (the producer of Adderall, AdderallXr, Intuniv and Vyvanse) and Novartis (the maker of Focalin and FocalinXR).  The inquiries explore the allegation that the two companies are making too much of the more expensive brand name drugs and not enough of the generic form with the amount of raw materials they are allowed by annual regulation.
 
I think they are asking the wrong question of the DEA.  There are several smaller companies that ONLY produce generic medications... and usually at a lower price than the generics from big companies.  Why hasn't the DEA funneled more of the raw materials to those companies?  More importantly, why haven't the quotas increased with the increase in prescriptions for these medications?  It is estimated that 4.4% of the U.S. adult population has ADHD.  Five years ago less than 10% of these people were being treated.  I saw a more recent estimate of 30% -- that's a lot more prescriptions!
 
Expensive though they may be, Big Pharma companies operate in a free market. Novartis and Shire risk alienating their customers who prefer their generic products if they are indeed funneling their allotted materials into name brand medication.  In the case of Vyvanse, there is no generic equivalent and in many cases, Vyvanse is a better medication than generic Adderall or Dexedrine with which it shares an element of the raw materials.  Vyvanse is usually smoother acting, lasts longer and has less of a let down at the end of the day.  It is also the least expensive of the brand name medications.
 
The congressional inquiry is a good idea so that it may publicize decisions made by the DEA and pharmaceutical companies.  It is my opinion that the basic problem is that regulations have not kept up with the medical need for controlled substances.  Brand name pharmaceutical companies have behaved in a manner befitting private industry, maximizing their profit margins, but this does not account for the shortages of brand name Adderall.

3 Comments to Congressmen investigate ADHD drug shortage:

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Robert Lee on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 8:35 PM
"They" need to do something since "they" are regulating it. It is ridiculous for me to drive to two different pharmacies 20 MILES apart to get my Rx filled, or wait two weeks, or be told it's on manufacturers' backorder and will not be available until MARCH! Everything is in short supply! And, if it IS due to abuse (which is just an excuse) "they" need to crack down on the doctors who are over-prescribing the meds; it is ONLY available through a doctor you dorks! If they want to see the shortage they can ride along with me next month when I TRY to get my Rx filled! I only had to make three stops (for two Rx), 35 miles apart this month...
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Lauren Kacir on Thursday, February 9, 2012 11:14 AM
The shortage definitely sucks, if you'll excuse my use of the vernacular. I haven't yet figured out what I as a prescribing physician can do about it. I, unfortunately, do not have the time or resources to ferret out which pharmacies get their deliveries at which times, so it is left to my patients to do the legwork themselves. I guess we can all write to our congressmen to continue to put pressure on the DEA!
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Devid Mark on Sunday, February 28, 2016 3:59 AM
That's a great job I think. Drugs are very dangerous to society. I hope that it will be very effective to people. Young generation will be free from drugs addiction. Thanks a lot.
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