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ADHD drugs shortages causing panic among some patients

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ADHD drugs shortages causing panic among some patients

By Neil Trainis

Patients across the UK are struggling to get hold of their ADHD medicines because of a shortage that the government warned could drag on until December, with some frantically asking pharmacies to dispense their doses in different combinations to meet their prescriptions.

Disruptions to supply are impacting three types of ADHD medicines such as methylphenidate including branded versions Equasym XL 10, 20 and 30mg capsules, Xaggitin XL 18 and 36mg prolonged-release tablets, Concerta XL 54mg prolonged-release tablets and Xenidate XL 27mg prolonged-release tablets.

Lisdexamfetamine, including branded versions Elvanse 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70mg capsules and Elvanse Adult 30, 50, and 70mg capsules, are in shortage while Guanfacine, including the branded version Intuniv 1, 2, 3 and 4mg prolonged-release tablets, are also in short supply.

The Department of Health and Social Care said supply disruptions were caused by manufacturing issues and an increased global demand and said shortages were “expected to resolve at various dates between October and December 2023.”

“Other ADHD products remain available but cannot meet excessive increases in demand,” the DHSC said. Doctors have been told not to give prescriptions for any of the drugs impacted by shortages to new patients until the issue has been solved.

English Pharmacy Board member Thorrun Govind told Sky News the law needed to be changed to allow pharmacies to prescribe different quantities of a drug to meet the amount on a patient’s prescription.

“We need pharmacists to be empowered to prescribe quantities that add up to what a patient needs. I want to be able to provide two 10mgs if I do not have any 20mgs left,” she said.

Jimmy Lam, a GP at the Muswell Hill Practice, took to X to say: “Gosh this ADHD medication shortage is an absolute s * * tshow. Such a gigantic headache as a GP but I imagine only a fraction of the stress that patients must be feeling.”

Insisting he had “a lot of queries” from patients during his shift on Friday, Dr Lam said ADHD shortages felt “like a much more desperate situation than HRT and GLP-1s (shortages) where we had some alternatives.”

“Here, we have patients feeling awful with very few options to work with,” he said.

Another GP, Adrian Harrop, who works at Brownlow Health which has four practices in Liverpool, said he had a “dozen patients” on Friday “who were calling round to pharmacies across the region trying to get their doses dispensed in different combinations.”

He said it “would be helpful if the pharmacies could be given autonomy to make common sense dispensing decisions such as 30 + 40 = 70.”

Liam Barker, a GP in Hackney, said he spent an entire afternoon “trying to explain to frantic patients” that he was unable to “swap their Elvanse to something else.”

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