- The government has issued a warning about the lack of supply of ADHD medication
- Charity boss Henry Shelford criticized the NHS and DHSC for not being prepared
- Patient Jess Price, 26, called 43 pharmacies to get just part of her prescription
A warning has been issued about dire shortages of ADHD medication, which has left patients calling dozens of pharmacies to get the life-changing pills.
A head of an ADHD charity said the impact of “suddenly removing medication is similar to removing a wheelchair from a disabled person who needs it” and urged the government to tackle the problem for the more than 200,000 people taking pills.
The government has issued a safety alert saying that three neurodevelopmental disorder drugs have been affected by supply issues that it says are “caused by a combination of manufacturing issues and an increase in global demand.”
Shortages of methylphenidate (also known by the brand name Concerta XL), lisdexamfetamine (Elvanse), and guanfacine (Intuniv) are expected to be resolved by December.
The alert also said that supply problems for atomoxetine, a fourth ADHD drug that began in July, were expected to end this month — but several dose sizes still face active supply problems.
The Department of Health and Social Care said prescribers should not supply new patients until the shortage ends, and that GPs should contact a “specialist patient team for advice on management options” if medicines are not available. .
Jess Price, 26, from central London, who takes non-stimulant atomoxetine, said none of the 43 pharmacies she called within an hour’s drive were able to supply a full month’s worth of tablets. “None of these pharmacies had all of my prescription in stock,” they said.
“ADHD medication is changing the lives of many with ADHD,” said ADHD UK CEO Henry Shelford. “ADHD is a disability and suddenly removing medication is similar to removing a wheelchair from a disabled person who needs it.”
He criticized the NHS for not having a plan in place, saying “people only find out when their pharmacy is unable to supply” and “they are left without support”.
“It is an abject failure, but unfortunately this lack of care is something we expect due to our stigmatized condition,” he added.
“The Department of Health and Social Care’s memo suggesting that GPs ‘contact the patient’s specialist team’ is ridiculous. Patients often wait years to meet their medication team. The latest quarterly NHS data shows there are 202,304 people receiving medication for ADHD.
‘Medication is carefully administered with determined dosage and type over months. The idea that it can be cut and changed is wrong. The idea that specialized teams have the capacity to review medications in this quantity is mistaken.
“This is devastating for individuals across the country and will change the lives of some. People with ADHD are being let down by the NHS – this is just the latest way we are failing them.
After ordering a prescription from online service Pharmacy2U on Tuesday, it became clear that Jess, a patient with ADHD, would have to try another route, and the GP’s clinical pharmacist said, after a two-day wait, to call the biggest possible number of pharmacies.
Jess even took to social media and asked family members across the country to see if their local pharmacy had the pills in stock – and was forced to ration the medication.
‘I didn’t know when I would get my prescription, so on days when I didn’t have anything important to focus on, I wouldn’t take medication because I was afraid it would run out when I needed it most. ‘
But this is far from a perfect solution, Jess said: ‘Not taking my medication has significantly worsened my ADHD symptoms as it affects the things I need to do on a daily basis, including difficulties sleeping and my executive functions.
‘This impacts my whole life. I was supposed to go to a concert today, but I missed it because I suffer from insomnia, so I couldn’t sleep until at least five thirty in the morning.
“It can take me three hours to sleep and it’s hard to wake up, but it’s significantly easier with my medication. This morning I even had an alarm, the radio went off and a sunlight alarm and I just slept.
Jess said the last time there was a shortage, untreated symptoms meant they faced significant problems at work and in their personal lives due to increased difficulty with timekeeping and organization.
And because people with ADHD often have difficulty with planning and organization, the fact that patients need sustained effort just to get the medications that can help is a paradoxical conundrum.
“It’s inaccessible anyway, but the fact that you have to jump through more bureaucratic hoops for people who struggle with executive functions makes it even more inaccessible,” Jess said.
‘It feels like a full-time job just to have access to my medication, which changes my life. This helps me function better as a human being. I feel like a useless mess at the moment.
Of all the pharmacies Jess contacted, only five had even a small amount of a monthly prescription in stock – and a shortage like this has already impacted the ADHD patient three times this year.
Jess was finally able to pick up the prescription for about 12 days and received a promissory note from the pharmacy for the remainder, which they remain skeptical about receiving before supplies run out.
Another patient, Jenny, not her real name, said she had not taken her medication, a 70 mg dose of Elvanse, for more than a week because it had run out.
The 49-year-old social worker told MailOnline: “I called lots of pharmacies and none of them had them in stock. Only one had Elvanse at 40 mg and 30 mg.
She said her “quality of life has improved significantly by understanding myself better since learning I have ADHD and taking medication,” but that now she can’t get her medication and is worried about losing her career.
‘I’m on Universal Credit now, waiting to hear back from ESA and having been denied PIP, I could lose my car because I definitely can’t pay my loan now. And working as a social worker without a car or even getting a job will be very difficult, if not impossible.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of supply issues affecting medicines used to treat ADHD due to increased global demand, and have issued communications to the NHS to advise healthcare professionals on the management of patients during this period. .
“We continue to work closely with the respective manufacturers to resolve the issues as quickly as possible and to ensure that patients have continued access to ADHD medications in the UK.”
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