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ASCM Insights

Drug Shortage Sends Kids Back to School Without Essential Medication


ADHD affects about 6 million adolescents in the United States alone, with 62% of these young people taking medication to treat the disorder. As I wrote last March, this and other drug shortages often have multiple causes and are compounded by an overreliance on foreign manufacturing, a lack of resilience in the face of natural disasters and opaque supply chains. But the return to the classroom could exacerbate the problem, reports Annika Kim Constantino for CNBC: “Many children and young adults with ADHD often take the summer off medication and primarily rely on it during the school year. That could lead to even more demand in the months ahead.”

Plus, prescriptions for ADHD medications increased by 10% from 2020 to 2021, according to the CDC. Interestingly, that uptick includes adults up to age 44. And as many manufacturing plants produce multiple medications, scaling up one drug might mean stopping production of another.

Although Adderall has been “consistently hard to get,” alternatively prescribed drugs, including Ritalin and Concerta, are also in short supply, reports PBS News Hour. One issue is the length of the prescription. ADHD meds are only given in 30-day supplies, unlike many other maintenance drugs, which consumers can get for three months. “You can’t even pay cash for a longer supply if you want to,” Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, tells PBS.

Drugmakers claim that they will restock some ADHD medications this September, but it’s unclear which ones and how much. “That reflects a bigger issue with the ongoing shortages,” Constantino writes. “It’s nearly impossible to know when they will end — or what exactly can be done to resolve them — because of the lack of transparency in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Supply chain ABC’s

Development in pharmaceutical supply chains — as with any global network — must grow from the inside. To better understand how you can be a part of the shift toward a more transparent supply chain in any field, attend ASCM CONNECT: North America September 11-13 in Louisville, Kentucky. There, you can attend educational sessions about health care and pharma, including the TechTalk “Control Towers Provide Lifesaving Visibility” and the panel discussion “Data and Advanced Analytics at the Last Mile,” which will explore data flow within health care and pharmaceutical supply chains. You’ll discover innovative solutions that advance supply chain efficiency and effectiveness to achieve better outcomes for all.

But don’t be tardy for the bell; the conference is fast-approaching. Register today!

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through