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ADHD Drug Shortage Pushes Parents to Seek Substitutes
Date:1/6/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- If the current shortage of some drugs used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has left you searching for something else for your child to take, experts suggest you choose a substitute carefully because the effects of these medications can vary widely.

For example, "generics can sometimes be less bioavailable [how much of the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream], and that can make it harder to get an exact dose match between medications," explained Dr. Eric Hollander, director of the Autism and Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

"If the dose is too high, sometimes kids can get more withdrawn or weepy. If it's too low, they can't get adequate control of their symptoms during the day, and they can get a rebound later in the day. The new medicine may wear off faster. It's also not easy to switch from extended-release formulas to immediate-release," Hollander said.

The driving force behind the shortage is a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) policy that sets limits on the manufacturing of ADHD drugs, to limit the supply of these drugs to people who might use them illegally, according to a report by The New York Times. In some cases, drug companies manufacture both generic versions of ADHD drugs as well as the more expensive, branded versions, which can limit choices even further.

"This is the unfortunate result of well-intentioned policies combined with free market forces. It's a very substantial issue, and one that's affecting some families more than others," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park.

Whatever the reason behind the shortage, several drug companies that produce amphetamine products, including Adderall, have
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