CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A sharp increase in ADHD diagnoses during the pandemic has led to a nationwide medication shortage that is impacting families here in western Massachusetts. The shortage is forcing pharmacists to get creative with dosing and parents to scramble while kids are trying desperately to keep it together.
The 22News I-Team looked into what’s causing the shortage and how families are coping. The ADHD medication shortage means moms, like Lauren Harris of South Hadley, are spending a lot more time on the phone and in the car finding the ADHD medication her kids need became like a second job.
“We were just hunting. Hunting for which pharmacy had anything in stock,” said Harris. “We had to call around to different pharmacies and see what was in stock there and see if there was a medication that was comparable to the doses that they were on, and if there was the right dosage. Then we’d have to call the pediatrician and have the pediatrician send the prescriptions.”
In early August, the DEA and FDA released a statement recognizing the shortage, pointing to record high prescription rates as a driving factor with prescription rates up by more than 45 percent in the US since the pandemic.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sharon Saline, who wrote the book “What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew,” has seen this first hand in her practice.
“A lot of parents, coming out of COVID have seen that their kids were struggling, who wouldn’t struggle with the online learning, and it was very difficult for kids who were diagnosed as neuro-divergent and kids who weren’t also struggled. So many parents felt like ‘ wow , look my kid has ADHD or my child needs a 504 or an IEP,” remarked Dr. Saline.
Drug manufacturers, however, are unable to meet this increased demand. The DEA sets a production quota for amphetamines like ADHD medication due to their value for illegal sale and use. On September 29th, the DEA officially raised the amount that may be produced to address the shortage.
The 22News I-Team contacted two major manufacturers of ADHD medication, Sandoz and Teva, to see if they manufactured their full quota, but they did not respond.
Pharmacists here have also been grappling with the shortage. They have been forced to get creative with doctors and with patients.
“And sometimes we’ll have to take a higher strength and suggest to the patient that they cut the tablet in half,” said Lee LaLonde, a pharmacist at Center Pharmacy.
Lalonde said he’s taken many calls from concerned parents, even those who live more than an hour away. “Unfortunately I have people calling me from the Worcester area to the east and the Pittsfield area to the west looking for these medications. It’s that competitive out there. It’s hard times for sure.”
And in the wake of all this – the kids. Many of them struggle to get through the school day without their medication. “They are using all their coping skills they are doing their deep breathing they are trying to shake the wiggles out but – – biologically they are just hyperactive and they need the medication to help them control their bodies,” said Harris.
Find out which drugs are in short supply in the U.S. at the FDA website.
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