Iowa City hit by nationwide Adderall shortage

The FDA posted a shortage of Adderall on Oct. 12, leaving patients with ADHD scrambling to get their medication. Iowa City pharmacies are experiencing the issue but have been able to work around it.


Isabella Cervantes

Lauren Hagar, a Junior at the University of Iowa, poses for a portrait in the Adler Journalism Communications building on Oct. 27. Hager was diagnosed with ADHD last spring and explained it runs in her family. Hager has been rationing her two last pills and expressed her concerns because of the shortage. “It’s so difficult to find a pharmacy that still had adder all in stock,” she said.

Colin Votzmeyer, News Reporter

University of Iowa third-year student Lauren Hagar was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in July and was prescribed Adderall to manage her symptoms. She recently went to CVS for her routine refill, but when she reached the counter, the pharmacist told her she could not get her medication until November.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the shortage of Adderall on Oct. 12, also known as the immediate formulation of amphetamine mixed salts. Teva, which is one of the salt manufacturers, is experiencing production delays, according to the FDA post.

The FDA approves Adderall for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.

According to the post, the manufacturers are continuing to produce salts, but it’s not enough to satisfy the demand in the U.S. Although alternative therapies are available, the FDA suggests patients discuss different treatment options with their health care professionals until the supply issues are fixed.

Hagar said her doctor told her they could send her prescription to a different pharmacy that has Adderall still in stock, but she would have to find the pharmacy and see if insurance would cover it herself.

Since the shortage, Hagar said she has experienced mild withdrawal symptoms that “have not been fun.” She said her appetite has been affected, and she often feels tired. This makes her wish she had her Adderall medication to help.

“It’s definitely a bit stressful because I need it to help with schooling, paying attention in class, keeping track of myself and my day-to-day life,” Hagar said. “Not having my meds makes me a bit more scatterbrained. Recently, it’s just been harder to focus in class [and] get work done.”

Hagar knows a lot of people who abuse the system to get Adderall for recreational use, which she said creates a feeling of injustice.

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“It’s just offsetting that people have zero regard for the people that need it, and they just use it for fun and abuse the medical system to get it for fun,” she said.

The FDA Drug Shortages webpage states the shortage is not expected to be resolved until December at the latest.

Rebecca Chackalackal, interim medical director at UI Student Health, said there is a psychiatry team that treats ADHD patients with prescriptions of stimulant medications like Adderall.

“Patients’ providers have been working with them to use alternate pharmacies if one pharmacy is out of medication,” Chackalackal said. “We have been able to work around this issue so far, and I don’t think any student has been adversely affected.”

Some Iowa City pharmacies, however, are battling the shortage.

Christina Gayman, assistant vice president of communications at Hy-Vee, said the pharmacy chain is experiencing the same consequences of the shortage as other pharmacies are.

Kaitlyn Pegump, director of clinical operations and the pharmacist in charge of Towncrest Pharmacy’s Iowa City location, said they are experiencing the Adderall shortage but regularly check to see if any medication is available and keeping it on the shelves for patients.

“When we go to place our order for our medications, we’ve obviously been seeing that it has been on back order,” Pegump said. “I think we’ve been fortunate to be able to get some in when we need it, and [we] haven’t had patients go without it.”

She said Towncrest has been fortunate because they haven’t had to tell doctors to switch patients onto different strengths and formulations of Adderall.

Pegump said they will still continue to search for the medication, stay in contact with patients, and keep doctors and prescribers in the loop while they wait for the shortage to resolve.

When the shortage is resolved, she said she will feel relieved to no longer live with the constant stress of finding medication and covering the cost.

“It’ll definitely be a weight lifted,” she said. “I won’t have to feel the constant stress over not having my medication and not being able to do my schoolwork efficiently.”

For now, Hagar said there is not much she can do, and she called the shortage “a waiting game.”

“As of right now, I’m rationing my last two pills,” Hagar said. “I’ve debated opening them and taking little bits every day until I can get my meds.”