Today, most- if not all- Doctor’s offices are strained by the shortage of some prescription medication or vaccine. A month ago, President Obama signed his executive order, directing the FDA to take steps to reduce drug shortages as the White House stated that drug shortages have nearly tripled over the past five years reaching the stunning number of 178 in 2010. These shortages make regular news: Cancer patients without the chemotherapy needed to keep them alive, antibiotics unavailable to treat life-threatening infections, or intravenous nutrition to support the critically ill fighting to live while medical teams and families search for elusive remedies.
As this new reality plays out in hospitals and homes the media is provided a steady stream of drama for our morning paper or evening news. Meanwhile, time and focus is repeatedly stolen from physicians, patients, and parents in a myriad of ways. Currently, my medical practice- in primary care Internal Medicine- has been negatively affected by the shortage of Adderall, a medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). What this medical condition may lack in dramatic news-worthiness it more than makes up for in sheer numbers with an estimated 4.5 million Americans living with this condition today.
I had my first inkling several months ago of the affect the Adderall shortage would have on my practice after one of my patients called frustrated that their pharmacy did not have their Adderall at the prescribed dosage. By calling several pharmacies I was able to find their medication at a smaller dose. Advising my patient to “double-up” I wrote another prescription and had to direct my patient to return to my office to pick up the rewritten prescription- a time-consuming process that doctors and patients can ill afford to repeat on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, this scenario -initially thought an exception- has now become the rule monopolizing my own time while draining the daily resources of my staff, nurse, and medical partner. Most ironically though, Read more »