FDA warns of nationwide shortage of ADHD medications - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

FDA warns of nationwide shortage of ADHD medications

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Millions of children - as well as adults - take medications like Ritalin and Adderall to help control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But a recent warning by the FDA of shortages of the generic forms of these drugs throughout the country, which have so far been seen sporadically here in San Diego, has many parents alarmed.

The FDA has added methylphenidate hydrochloride and amphetamine mixed salts, the generic versions of Ritalin and Adderall commonly used to treat ADHD, to a growing list of nationwide drug shortages. .

"Certain manufacturers are out, some are still in stock, so it really depends," said Ram Rakholia, a local pharmacist, who had recently come across sporadic shortages of a form of Adderall when trying to order it from a wholesale distributor. Currently, though, that particular drug is available.

"We had some in stock, so our patient didn't suffer any shortages," Rakholia said. "We took care of the patient."

Other pharmacies throughout San Diego also report recent difficulties in ordering ADHD drugs, as have pharmacists in Minneapolis, Seattle and other major cities.

In the United States, an estimated 5.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have, at some point, been diagnosed with ADHD.

According to the CDC, 66 percent of them take medication to control their condition.

Dr. Brett Johnson, a child psychiatrist with Rady Children's hospital, says that when children skip even one or two days of ADHD medication, the effect can be almost immediate, and frustrating for families.

"We would expect those problematic behaviors... impulsivity, aggression, hyperactivity, trouble with focusing, concentrating... we would expect those to come back," Dr. Johnson said.

"The best thing parents can do is to educate themselves, and the best person to talk to would be the prescribing physicians," said Meghan Lukasik, a psychologist at Rady Children's Hospital.

What's behind this shortage? Some distributors have pointed to delays in the manufacturing process, increased demand and a short supply of ingredients needed to make these drugs. These shortages could last for months, according to the FDA.

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