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The Ongoing ADHD Drug Shortage: Drawbacks of Big Pharma

Back in October 2022, the FDA announced that the drug category “Amphetamine Mixed Salts” (the category Adderall falls under) was experiencing a shortage. As a rising rate of prescriptions were being made during the Covid-19 pandemic, the shortage became more demanding. Today the shortage persists - on August 1, 2023, the FDA released a statement urging manufacturers to work together to meet the demand for the drug.

The shortage results from manufacturing delays with Teva (the world’s largest generic drug producer and largest producer of Adderall). Teva is cutting back production of generic drugs and focusing resources on developing new treatments that they hope will be profit drivers to get them out of their current financial slump. Teva acquired the company responsible for the opioid crisis (Actavis Generics) in 2016. Because of this acquisition, Teva became the target of state and local government lawsuits - just one settlement with the Texas Attorney General was 4.25 billion. As Teva slowed its production, the company’s CEO Richard Francis was quoted at a news conference on May 18 saying, “I think when we step out of these markets, we’ll be replaced very quickly by the many other manufacturers who are delivering and supplying these products.” Implying a confidence that the shortage of the drug would remedy itself.

However, many drug manufacturers operate at peak capacity with dedicated resource allocations to the drugs they produce. To meet surplus demand from Teva backing away, companies will need time and additional resources to satisfy the market. This is made even more complicated by Adderall being a controlled substance and heavily regulated, as manufacturers are only allowed to work with a certain amount of Amphetamine Mixed Salts each year. Public outcry over the Adderall shortage may help facilitate a solution sooner rather than later, but within the drug market, there are 160 drug shortages with significantly less coverage.


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