Central Planning Causes Prescription Drug Shortage

(Jeffrey A. Singer, Cato Institute) There’s a national shortage of the stimulant Adderall, used to treat people with ADHD. The drug, a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, is strictly controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

As it does with opioids, the DEA sets quotas on the amount of the drug each manufacturer may produce in the coming year. These quotas are based upon what the agency believes the population of the United States will need in the coming year—what F.A. Hayek would call a “fatal conceit.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, a labor shortage caused production delays for Teva Pharmaceuticals, the largest supplier of generic Adderall. The DEA’s strict production quotas on the drug’s other manufacturers prevent them from making up for the shortfall. According to the WSJ report, a National Community Pharmacists Association survey found 64 percent of pharmacies had difficulty getting Adderall by early August.

This is harming patients and their ability to do their jobs. One patient interviewed in the WSJ report has been unable to get her prescription filled since June. This negatively impacts her ability to function on the job as well as in the home.

The story quotes her:

“It has been kind of a nightmare,” said Ms. Clemence, 36 years old. “I can’t get enough done. I feel like I need to take way more breaks than I needed to take before, and I’ve had to shift how I work.”

Teva is expected to increase production this month and the shortage may end soon.