Monday, April 30, 2012

A Rant About the Adderall Shortage

I have been taking Adderall (or rather the generic form Amphetamine Salts) for 4-5 years to treat ADHD. When I started taking the medicine, it wasn't to lose weight, to get "high", or to stay up all night to study for exams. It was because I actually needed the drug to curb my impulsivity and inattention. The psychiatrist who initially prescribed the medicine also said it would help with my depression. I was taking graduate courses towards my Master's degree & it was impossible for me to focus in a class where the teacher was broadcast over a television screen. I wasn't able to finish projects in school & around the house without getting distracted & starting something else. These had always been issues for me, but until I started teaching special education & researching learning problems I didn't realize that I had a condition that was causing the problems.

Adderall is a Schedule II drug, which means you can't get refills like any old medication. You have to have the Rx in hand to give to the pharmacy. It can't be called in or faxed in. For the first few years I had to visit the doctor's office monthly to get the paper prescription. In more recent years the doctor has been able to write 3 months' worth of prescriptions with a "hold until" date. This saves money on co-pays for doctor visits, which can add up after time.

I first noticed the "Great Adderall Shortage" early in 2011. I went to my usual CVS & was told they were completely out of all amphetamine salts. In fact, all of the CVS stores in town were out. After the grueling process of calling virtually every pharmacy within 30 miles I was usually able to find one drug store that had what I needed. I've had to drive 20-25 minutes to get my prescription filled. There were several times when no one had Adderall. It was those times that I had to call the doctor's office to get a prescription for something different. I had to drive to the doctor with my old Rx to exchange for Dextroamphetamine. Then the calling around process began again. (FYI: I hate talking on the telephone.)

What I found with the substitute medication was that while it helped somewhat, it definitely wasn't the same as Adderall. There have been some days when I haven't been able to take my medicine because I didn't have it or could only take half of my dosage because I wasn't sure when I'd be able to get it. Those were hazy, zombie-like days where I lacked energy, motivation, & focus.

This article suggests that there might be an end in sight, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

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