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Need for Speed: FDA Issues Notice on Adderall Shortages

Everyone who has received Adderall for ADHD or narcolepsy was advised by FDA to find alternative medicine. The FDA confirmed a shortage last week. But the causes remain somewhat elusive.

The FDA didn’t give much of an explanation for the shortage other than to say one of the main manufacturers of Adderall (which is the brand name given to a particular combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine salts), Teva, was experiencing “ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays” and “other manufacturers continue to produce amphetamine mixed salts, but there is not sufficient supply to continue to meet U.S. market demand through those producers.”

The good news? At this moment, the majority of these delays should be fixed by October or November. This is an updated ETA initially scheduled for March 20, 2023. We will probably not run out completely. The FDA advised patients that they should still seek out alternative therapies. 

New York TimesArticle cited ADHD’s rise as the primary reason behind the shortage. This is not surprising considering that ADHD-related cases have been on the increase. Adderall is a Schedule 2 drug that is tightly regulated. Adderall manufacturing is slow to meet demand due to the bureaucratic red tape involved in producing it. The rise in ADHD might be true, but it’s likely to have a lot to do with the Adderall shortage itself.

When things get scarce lately, the usual suspects are COVID-related supply chains issues and ongoing war in Ukraine. But Hamilton Morris is a scientist, journalist, and researcher best known for his television show. Hamilton’s PharmacopeiaOn Twitter,, suggested that Adderall’s shortage may be caused by a lack of nitroethane (one of the raw materials used in making it). Sigma Aldrich is the major distributor of nitroethane. They have it marked as inaccessible on their site. My deadline for contacting Sigma Aldrich’s media team was missed by their response to my phone call.

Others disagreed, saying there’s no reason to believe there is a nitroethane shortage quite yet, but it would certainly explain things if it turns out to be true. Chemjobber is a blog about chemistry news and jobs. Chronic News that while low nitroethane supply may be a potential factor, it’s essentially way more complicated than that.

“I strongly believe it is rarely API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) manufacturing that is the problem,” Chemjobber said. “That is a problem at the back of the chain, and there are 4-5 steps in front of it i.e. you could have a problem with tableting, or shipping, or labor etc.”

Teva had reported that earlier in the year they were experiencing labor shortages. This is an issue that has been common since COVID-19. Thus, it’s not necessarily a shortage of one chemical as much as it seems to be a perfect storm of bad luck and the basic production limitations of any heavily regulated industry.

Chemjobber, who was unsure if America would run out of Adderall in the future, compared it to the early COVID toilet paper craze. He predicted this too will pass. Teva’s ETA was also increased by several months over the course of a single week, which is a good sign. Unfortunately, they didn’t call me back either.