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Important Information About Adderall and Other Stimulant Medication Shortages

Published March 23, 2023

Because of shortages announced in October 2022, many Emory Healthcare patients are having difficulty filling stimulant medication prescriptions. These shortages have become more severe and have continued to impact our patients for several months. As a resource for our patients with these prescriptions, we have collected a list of common questions and our recommendations for a variety of treatment options that may be available. We have also provided a link to lists of stimulant medications and their alternatives.

Why are there shortages?

In October 2022, the FDA announced that there was a shortage in the production of mixed amphetamines and dextroamphetamine. These drugs are the active components of medications like Adderall and Dexedrine, and many others. The shortages are caused by two things: more adults are receiving prescriptions for these medications and the leading manufacturer has reported production problems.

When will shortages end?

It is not clear when production may be increased, so we do not know when medication shortages may end. Additionally, other stimulant medications (such as methylphenidate preparations like Concerta and Focalin) are also sometimes difficult to obtain. This is because even though they are not officially in shortage, more patients are requesting them as alternatives to Adderall.

Can I try filling a prescription at multiple pharmacies?

Every stimulant prescription is tracked by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. It is not possible to send the same prescription to multiple pharmacies at the same time, hoping that one location will have the drug available. Providers at Emory Healthcare have one option: to send a prescription to one pharmacy at a time. If the pharmacy does not have the medication in stock, we then send it to another pharmacy. Unfortunately, there is no way to automate this process and each prescription must be sent manually by your provider each time.

Can my provider check availability before sending a prescription?

Many patients, nurses, and doctors have attempted to call pharmacies to see if they have certain stimulant medications in stock. Because these are potentially abusable substances, pharmacies generally will not provide information about availability over the phone. In addition, their stock availability may change rapidly. A drug available one morning may not be available by the afternoon or next day. As the shortages continue, calling pharmacies for accurate information about their stock is no longer possible.

What we recommend:

Every patient’s situation is unique. Some may be able to successfully switch to another medication, but others have learned after trying alternatives that only amphetamines are effective for them. Right now, the best thing for patients to do is to contact the provider who prescribes their stimulant medication. We encourage all patients to talk with their doctors about the treatment approaches that could be appropriate for them. If a non-amphetamine alternative can work as a treatment option, patients can avoid the problems caused by these ongoing supply issues.

What not to do:

We understand some patients may feel desperate to obtain their prescription stimulant medication. However, some actions can put you at risk, so Emory Healthcare strongly recommends against the following:

  1. Do not use a drug supply offered by a friend. There are many formulations of stimulants, and it is important to have a physician’s expert training and knowledge to understand dosages and compatibility. A friend’s prescription may not work and may cause serious harm.
  2. Do not obtain stimulant medications through illegal purchases. Illegally purchased medications are often modified with other substances, which can cause serious harm. What may be labeled as “Adderall” could in fact contain Fentanyl, other narcotics, or worse.

If you have any questions about your prescription and treatment options, talk with your doctor. You can call your provider’s office or send a message using your MyChart patient portal.

For more information, we have collected a list of helpful resources: