A Denver woman drove two hours away to get her ADHD medication, which she couldn’t get anywhere else due to shortages.
Colorado, United States People with ADHD said they have trouble getting needed medications throughout the year and are forced to drive for hours in hopes of getting the prescriptions they need for their ADHD.
Many times patients would return empty handed. People suffering from medicine shortage want to see the problem of supply and demand solved.
When you don’t have medication, you’re really vulnerable to this decline, said Jessica Urgo, who suffers from ADHD and lives in Denver.
Having suffered from ADHD for decades, Urgo had never had a problem taking medication until about a year ago. She went to the pharmacy to pick up her Adderall as usual, but returned empty handed.
It was like, OK, this is a little weird, but it’s not the end of the world, Urgo said. At one point the pharmacists were feeling bad about it, where they said I’m really sorry, you can try this, you can try that.
This year, it became the norm.
Then it started growing rapidly, where it wasn’t ready in a few days, and then it wouldn’t be ready in another week, Urgo said. They just shrug their shoulders and say that this is what is happening and we don’t even realize it.
Urgos’s husband also has ADHD. At one point he became despondent.
We drove for two hours because it had been three weeks and we hadn’t found anything, Urgo said.
They are rationing what little they have.
I have a big presentation this day, so I absolutely need it, and on Saturday I’m going to a party with a lot of people and I don’t want to seem like I’m talking too much or missing social cues. , Urgo said. But I have a choice.
Urgo said medicine is just one piece of the puzzle.
You need to come at it from all these different angels,” Urgo said. You need therapy, and you are willing to work on it yourself, and you need medications. And without those three pieces, it can be really hard.
Justin Vandenberg is the pharmacy business services manager at Denver Health.
It’s scary, in earlier years I worked in retail, and would see patients on their faces saying sorry, we’re out of this, I don’t know when we’ll be back in, and that uncertainty is really scary. I leave them in one position. Bind, Vandenberg said.
Vandenberg said the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, recognizes Adderall as a controlled substance.
Fentanyl is in the same category as oxycodone. Vandenberg said there are a lot of checks and balances put in place and one of them is that the DEA sets an annual quota for how much can be earned, and it’s based on past trends from previous years. And what is boiling over is the issue of supply and demand. We have a lot of people who are being diagnosed with ADHD and the amount is increasing. However, you’re looking at these past trends of how much can be produced, and it doesn’t match that.
Vandenberg said people have to take what they’re prescribed.
Let’s say they’re at five milligrams, but we have ten milligrams, we can’t change that because of the prescription classification, Vandenberg said. But we can call that doctor, and they can get a new prescription for tens of thousands of people, and cut that in half. It’s about trying to be a little more creative in helping that patient.
Vandenberg said work is being done behind the scenes to help people.
At the congressional level, there are discussions going on about other drug shortages, so I’m hopeful that enough people are speaking out that some changes are going to happen, Vandenberg said. Now it has to be decided what that change should be.
Urgo wants to see a solution to the problem. “I’ve been told I’m very smart, I know I’m smart, but being unable to do the things you want to do feels very weak,” Urgo said.
Urgo hoped others fighting the same battle would give themselves a little grace.
You just have to be good and kind to yourself, and you have to be a good advocate for yourself, Urgo said.
Getting patients to talk to their pharmacist and provider and have open conversations, Vandenbergh said. In fact, I can speak for myself, it inspires that passion and that desire to go to that next day and that next day when you see these stories. One, it breaks your heart, but when you can change that and put a smile on that patient’s face, that’s really what I’m here for.
“If I could get medicine every day, I would be happy, I would be able to do more,” Urgo said.
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