ADHD drugs in high demand and in short supply

People living with ADHD could soon find themselves in a world of trouble, with psychiatrists saying a popular form of treatment is facing major shortages.

Ritalin, or methylphenidate, is a central nervous system stimulant used to treat people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Prescriptions for the drug have tripled over the past 10 years and increased dramatically during the pandemic.

Dr Tanveer Ahmed told 3AW radio that Ritalin was being wiped from Australian shelves amid a supply chain crisis.

“Medically it’s used in children with diagnosed ADHD, but a lot of adults are also taking it now, so the backdrop is that the prescription of these drugs has tripled in the last decade.”

Dr Ahmed said Ritalin is not the only medicine in short supply, but also a range of other essential medicines.

Ritalin, similar to Adderall in the US, has seen a dramatic increase in demand over the past few months and, when coupled with the current supply crisis, will see patients leave chemists empty-handed.

The pandemic has already added stress to the world’s drug supply, and we are still seeing the effects flow.

“It shows that we have to take care of ourselves; we have to try very hard to have our own supplies,” Dr Ahmed said.

He said the effects of the shortage will be felt in offices and schoolyards across Australia.

“Kids in the schoolyard will play, people will get foggy at work.”

There is additional demand for the drug, which is also used recreationally to help people stay focused.

“It shouldn’t be used for non-medical purposes, but it is sometimes used as a performance enhancer for some,” Dr. Ahmed said.

“People taking the drug without a prescription will have a hard time getting their hands on it,” he said.

He said people taking the drug for medical purposes should stock up as much as possible to avoid disappointment.

Originally published as ADHD drugs in high demand and in short supply