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B.C. not facing an immediate shortage of ADHD drugs

Abbotsford News - 10/29/2023

Shortages of medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the United States have not yet significantly impacted B.C., according to the provincial ministry of health.

In October 2022, the Federal Drug Administration in the United States announced a shortage of Adderall, a drug approved for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. This shortage in the United States has since led to shortages among other drugs used to treat ADHD. These shortages have subsequently gained additional attention with the start of the new school year at both the K-12 and post-secondary level, prompting questions about the availability of such drugs in B.C.

The ministry says the provincial drug supply remains strong, adding that it has no indication of an incoming, widespread shortage.

While the ministry acknowledges that a few shortages exist in B.C. without further specifying them, generic or brand alternatives are adequately available.

The ministry says it is monitoring the situation has previously engaged with Health Canada when the shortages first appeared in the United States about a year ago.

The provincial government says drug shortages occur when drug manufacturers or distributors cannot supply enough of a drug to fill prescriptions. This can result from various supply and demand causes, including manufacturing issues, distribution issues (including importation) and product discontinuations.

Alternative coverage for drugs affected by PharmaCare shortages can be found on the PharmaCare Drug Shortages website.

HealthLink BC defines ADHD as a condition in which individuals have trouble paying attention and focusing on tasks, tend to act without thinking, and have trouble sitting still. The exact cause of ADHD is not clear, but it tends to run in families and affects both children and adults, according to HealthLink BC. ADHD affects an estimated five to nine per cent of school-age children and four percent of adults, according to BC Children's Hospital.

Treatments for ADHD vary and include stimulants include amphetamine with Adderall or Dexedrine as examples, non-stimulants and anti-depressants. Mild symptoms may also be treated with behavioural training, social skills training, counselling among other options, according to HealthLinkBC.