Virginia Democrat urges DEA, FDA to act on shortage of ADHD drugs

AP/Alex Brandon
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., speaks before President Joe Biden talks about prescription drug costs at the Daniel Technology Center of Germanna Community College – Culpeper Campus, Feb. 10, 2022, in Culpeper, Va.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) has sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging both agencies to act on the recent shortage of ADHD drugs. 

In her letter to DEA acting Administrator Anne Milgram and FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, Spanberger asked the two agencies to collaborate on a comprehensive federal response to ensure access to Adderall and other ADHD medications for Americans who rely on the drugs. 

“The ongoing shortage has made it incredibly difficult for ADHD patients to manage their daily lives, and I encourage your agencies to collaborate and do everything possible to alleviate this shortage as quickly as possible,”  Spanberger wrote in her letter.

“Shortages of essential drugs, especially ones that have been on the market for years, have been a persistent problem in our healthcare system for years. Drug shortages pose significant challenges to the public health because they delay care for patients, frustrate providers who must prescribe alternatives that may be less effective or pose additional risks to the patients, and expose consumers to price gouging by unscrupulous manufacturers.”

The FDA reported in October that there was an Adderall shortage due to ongoing manufacturing delays. Adderall is the brand name for the immediate-release formulation of amphetamine mixed salts. 

Spanberger also requested information from both federal agencies on how they will work  independently and jointly to alleviate the shortage.

“Patients who rely on Adderall to function daily deserve a comprehensive federal response to ensure access to their medications,” Spanbrger wrote. “Given the complicated regulatory framework around controlled substances and the incentives in the drug industry, addressing the shortage of Adderall will require coordination between FDA, DEA, and industry.”

Spanberger’s letter, first reported by Politico, comes after Congress had relaxed restrictions on providers prescribing Schedule II controlled substances, such as Adderall, through telehealth at the start of the pandemic. 

This led to an increase in both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses and prescriptions for Adderall, as the total number of Adderall and generic-equivalent prescriptions saw a 16 percent rise from 35.5 million in 2019 to 41.2 million in 2021, according to data from health research firm IQVIA.

In a statement to The Hill, an FDA spokesperson said the agency has received Spanberger’s letter and will respond directly to the congresswoman’s office. 

The Hill has reached out to the DEA for comment on the letter.

Updated at 3:39 p.m.

Tags Abigail Spanberger Abigail Spanberger adderall shortage Anne Milgram Drug Enforcement Agency Food and Drug Administration Robert Califf Robert Califf

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