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Shortage Of Drugs For Patients With Attention Deficit Disorder

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Prescription drugs. (CBS)

Prescription drugs. (CBS)

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UPDATED 06/07/11 6:03 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS)–Imagine running from pharmacy to pharmacy to fill a prescription only to learn your much-needed drugs were nowhere to be found.

CBS 2′s Vince Gerasole reports a growing number of Chicago families are coping with that reality.

Like any mother and son, Adrienne Nelson and Jordan Banks have a lot in common.

That includes coping with attention deficit disorder.

“It’s just very difficult to stay on track,” said Jordan Banks.

For years, drugs like Adderal and Ritalin have helped them focus better–but in recent months, shortages of these types of medications are making them harder to find. Mom and son couldn’t get their refill for three weeks.

“I would go to multiple stores and ask them to check inventory and they didn’t have it,” Jordan Banks said.

“Some people have not been able to get the drug for like two or three months,” added Adrienne Nelson.

The pills active and controlled ingredients are regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration–which reportedly delayed their release last year. That came as use of the drugs continued to skyrocket–to over 24 million prescriptions in 2010.

“You have a responsibility to help a patient and you get them on a medication that helps,” said Dr. Louis Kraus, a psychiatrist at Rush University Medical Center. “Then you get a call [and] there’s nothing available.”

Dr. Kraus says not taking the medication can result in the inability to perform well in school, and can also impact an adult’s ability to hold down a job.

“Even not having the medication for a few weeks can impact them tremendously and that can include driving at-risk behaviors and impulse control issues,” said Kraus.

Adrienne said that three weeks without medication was very difficult. She said even basic tasks were a challenge.

For example, she said she would start washing the dishes, then forget about them, and leave the water running.

“ADHD is difficult to deal with and a lot of people make fun of it and stuff but it is difficult to concentrate and complete your tasks,” said Jordan. “So without it, we suffer.”

Some alternative drugs are available, but a switch isn’t always covered by insurance. It’s forcing some families to cut back on dosages.

Manufacturers promise to have supplies at sufficient levels by late June.

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