ADHD meds in high demand and in short supply

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People living with ADHD could soon be in a world of trouble, with psychiatrists claiming a popular form of treatment is experiencing 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 in the last 10 years and have significantly increased during the pandemic.

Dr Tanveer Ahmed told 3AW radio Ritalin is being wiped from Australian shelves amid a supply chain crunch.

“Medically it’s used in kids with diagnosed ADHD, but a lot of adults are on it too now, so the backdrop to this is the prescription of these drugs has tripled over the past decade.”

Camera IconRitalin is stuck in a supply chain nightmare, and patients are struggling to get their medication. Credit: News Corp Australia

Dr Ahmed said Ritalin isn’t the only drug experiencing shortages, but a range of other essential drugs as well.

Ritalin, similar to Adderall in the United States, has seen a dramatic increase in demand over the past few months, and when partnered with the current supply crunch, will see patients leaving chemists empty-handed.

The pandemic has already added stress to the supply of medications globally, and we’re still seeing the flow on effects.

“It shows we have to take care of ourselves; we need to make strong efforts to have our own supplies,” Dr Ahmed said.

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

“Schoolyard kids will be playing up, people will be getting foggy at work.”

There is extra demand on the drug, which is also used recreationally to help people maintain focus.

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

“People who take the drug without prescriptions will struggle to get their hands on it,” he said.

He said people who take the drug for medicinal purposes should stock up as much as they can to avoid disappointment.

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