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ADHD patients look for alternatives amid drug shortages

Posted at 6:07 PM, Aug 09, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — ADHD patients and their families have struggled to fill their prescriptions since the shortage began in October 2022, they now are searching for alternatives until supply returns.

Clara Pitts just graduated high school and her ADHD makes it difficult to get things done. According to her mother, Rebekah Pitts, even things she enjoys like practicing the piano.

“Her ability to focus is fractured when she’s not taking it and more focused when she is," said Pitts.

Clara's alternative, Vyvanse, seems to help, but has some drawbacks. As prescribed, Vyvanse can only be taken once a day and lasts about 6 hours.

“I’ve had to make it work with my schedule to only have one medicated time of the day,” said Clara.

She starts college at BYU soon. She has been using spreadsheets and apps to help her stay on task.

“I’m just nervous for her,” said Rebekah. “BYU is a really hard school, very academically rigorous, and it can be overwhelming, that’s why I would love it if she had more tools in her belt.”

On August 1, the FDA and DEA signed a joint letter saying they are doing what they can to help address the shortage.

According to pediatrician Ellie Brownstein, not having the right medication can be challenging.

“Some kids really do not sit well in an environment, do not focus well, and especially as we get back to school," said Brownstein. "It’s significantly harder because it demands a higher level of focus for most of us."

Doctors and providers are feeling the strain of the shortage.

“Be patient with providers, with families who are calling in, because everyone is trying,” said Brownstein.

Changing prescriptions is one option for handling the shortage, but it can create other challenges like cost. Clara and her family say manufacturer coupons have made a big difference for them.