Omaha pharmacies feeling effects of ADHD medication shortage

Omaha area pharmacies are struggling to keep up with demand amidst a shortage of ADHD medication across the U.S.
Published: Aug. 18, 2023 at 10:14 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) impacts millions of kids and adults.

Nationally, there is a shortfall in medicine used to treat the condition, and pharmacies are seeing it locally.

Amy McMurtry oversees Nebraska Medicine’s retail locations in the Omaha and Lincoln area.

She said she’s never seen a shortage like this for ADHD prescriptions.

“Obviously, the Adderall situation started over a year ago—or we’ve been in it almost a year—but it’s continued to compound and kind of transfer over to other medications,” McMurtry said.

She said that transfer is because those who used to take Adderall have made the jump to other medicines.

“Many patients switched to alternatives, which has now caused us to see intermittent availability with other ADHD medications,” McMurtry said.

She said Nebraska Medicine’s pharmacies have seen most supply issues with Focalin, Ritalin, Concerta, and Vyvanse, and that what’s happening follows the same pattern as what happened with Adderall last year.

“We saw shortages with the variety of strengths, the beginnings of the higher strengths,” McMurtry said. “I think switching to the alternatives, we’ve just kind of seen a repeat pattern with the other medications as well.”

Several Walgreens and CVS locations in town told 6 News they’ve had bigger challenges getting the higher dosages of Vyvanse replenished.

Kohll’s RX said its stores have almost all strengths on hand, and that its wholesalers have every strength available except 60 and 70 milligrams.

McMurtry said we could soon see shortages of lower dosages of ADHD prescriptions, too.

This comes at a time when students are getting back to school, with some parents saying they’ve had to skip or ration doses for their kids.

McMurtry said patients should be their own advocates.

“Try to get on a list so that you can get the medication that you need,” McMurtry said. “Continue to stay in contact with your health provider as well.”

She thinks it’s going to take pharmacies, manufacturers, and regulators working together to agree on the best path forward.

Earlier this month, the DEA and FDA issued a letter to the public saying they will do what they can to limit the impact of these drug shortages, but that they cannot require pharmaceutical companies to make more of a drug or change its distribution.