ADHD drug prescriptions among adults soared in COVID's first year
ADHD med prescriptions for U.S. adults increased by more than 10% during the first year of COVID as telehealth's popularity and awareness of the condition grew, per a new government study.
Why it matters: The CDC’s report out Thursday is the latest insight into the “substantial spike” in demand for ADHD drugs, which has driven a months-long shortage linked to possible overprescribing.
Yes, but: Researchers say the reasons behind the surge are more complicated and could include widened access to care and the pandemic's mental health impact.
- They also wrote that it points to an unrecognized public health need since ADHD is tied to higher suicide rates and health problems while being misunderstood among adults and women.
- Women and older people with ADHD are also commonly under-identified and care for people in rural areas remains limited, meaning the jump in ADHD drug prescriptions could be late-identified cases, per the study.
- Though researchers also acknowledged the potential for “inadequate ADHD evaluations and inappropriate stimulant prescribing” due to limited provider training and little research.
State of play: The pandemic-inspired policies allowing for telehealth dispensing of controlled substances like Adderall are already facing a federal crackdown to limit it with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s latest proposed rules.
- The public comment period, which ends Friday, has spurred more than 26,000 statements — many in opposition to the DEA’s in-person prescribing requirement.
- Others have written that the rules bring back the barriers to ADHD care that preventing them from seeking treatment earlier.