A supposed ADHD drug shortage is actually a regulatory mess, and drug companies win big

It’s a disaster!

And now for the fine print… It’s only a disaster for consumers.

Millions of people use prescription drugs that happen to be in demand as recreational drugs. Crushing and snorting the drugs creates a cocaine-like high.

That’s a huge red flag. But most of the patients who take the drugs wouldn’t recognize the warning. They’re just kids. Some are as young as two-years old.

These drugs treat ADHD. They’re widely used. And they’re also widely abused.

But this situation is no disaster for drug companies. They’re raking in profits that would make an illegal drug lord blush.

And here’s what’s most disturbing… These profits would not be possible without the “assistance” of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

A constant worry

Doctors wrote more than 51 million prescriptions for ADHD drugs in 2010. Sales topped $7.40 billion. And yet, hundreds of people contact the FDA daily to report ADHD drug shortages.

Truth is, there are plenty of these drugs available.

To control ADHD drug abuse, the DEA sets yearly maximum quotas that drug companies are not allowed to exceed. Most companies that produce name brand ADHD drugs also produce generic versions. So you can imagine what happens.

Companies produce the more expensive name brands. The generics? Not so much.

Hilariously, The New York Times reports that the DEA “questions whether there really are shortages.”

That’s ridiculous. They’re not that clueless. One DEA official says, “We believe there is plenty of supply.” And he’s right. Plenty of name brand supply.

This puts quite a few adult ADHD patients and parents of ADHD kids in a bind. An adult patient told the Times that she called dozens of pharmacies. She was looking for a generic. But she threw in the towel and purchased a name brand. It boosted her co-pay from $10 to $200.

The Times adds, “Some patients say they worry almost constantly about availability.”

Change one or two details in these stories and patients sound like desperate addicts. They’re always worried. And they’re willing to pay high prices to score their drugs.

The CEO of an ADHD patient advocacy organization told the Times that the shortage of generics is so common that many patients are going untreated.

This is the saddest point about the Times piece. ADHD patients believe they’re out of options.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Tomorrow I’ll share with you some invaluable information from Dr. Spreen. He’ll explain how to smooth out hyperactive kids without having to see your dealer.

“F.D.A. Is Finding Attention Drugs in Short Supply” Gardiner Harris, New York Times, 12/31/11, nytimes.com

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