DEA warns that ADHD over prescription could be as bad as opioid crisis in ... trends now
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has expressed concern that 'aggressive marketing practices' by telehealth companies may be contributing to excessive prescriptions for medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a letter from the agency.
While the letter does not mention specific companies, it is believed to refer to telehealth companies such as Cerebral Inc. and Done Global Inc., whose prescribing practices have reportedly been under investigation by the DEA after blitzing social media with online adverts including Instagram and Facebook.
This decision follows a more than doubling in Adderall prescriptions of more than 10% per year in 2021 through to October 2022, after a roughly 5% annual increase in the three years prior, according to data from research firm IQVIA.
Adderall and the amphetamines used to make it are classified as Schedule II controlled substances by the DEA due to their high potential for abuse, along with opioids such as OxyContin and fentanyl.
Above, the total number of Adderall pills, branded and generic, dispensed last year at US pharmacies. Teva sold the most Adderall in the US in 2021
Adderall prescriptions rose more than 10% in 2021 and through October 2022, after a roughly 5% annual increase in the previous three years
Telehealth company Done has run advertisements featuring images of pills and promising quick ADHD diagnoses
The DEA is legally required to set production quotas each year for ingredients in Schedule II drugs.
In December, the DEA announced that it would not permit any increase in the production of pharmaceutical ingredients used to make Adderall and other stimulants for ADHD treatment in 2023.
The letter, which was sent to drug manufacturers over the summer but has not previously been reported, was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The federal government will regulate the production of the ingredients needed to create the ADHD-drug due to the potential for abuse.
The DEA's decision to limit production, coupled with a rise in prescriptions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has reportedly contributed to a shortage of Adderall, as noted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October.
Adderall prescriptions have steadily increased over the last 12 years. The figures include prescriptions for both Adderall, brand and generic, in the U.S.
Cerebral and Done have both stated they do not pressure clinicians and provide essential services but the DEA is currently investigating the prescribing practices of the companies. Pictured, a snapshot from a Cerebral video ad that ran in 2021 on Facebook
A spokesperson for Teva, the largest maker of Adderall stated: 'Teva is committed to patients who need access to the products their healthcare providers prescribe while also fully committed to carefully monitoring products controlled by the DEA.'
The letter from the