Sunday, August 28, 2011

Don't Know What You've Got ('Till It's Gone)

Earlier this month, I went back on Adderall, which my internist prescribes off-label for my intense chronic fatigue. I stopped taking it in January after one of my specialists suggested it could be the cause of my frequent headaches. (I also went off pain killers at that time.)

Apparently, in the seven months or so I stopped taking it, some kind of shortage developed. The pharmacists can't tell me if the manufacturer of the generic has cut back production or what, but they haven't been able to fill my prescription for the last three weeks. 

It's complicated by the fact that the only place I can actually afford to fill the prescription is at Costco, and it's possible that it's a distribution issue limited solely to Costco. Or that the high demand for it at the retailer who charges literally half to a quarter of the price other local pharmacies charge is keeping them from satisfying demand. (Costco charges me just over $26 for a 30-day supply of generic Adderall. My usual pharmacy charges $70. When I called around to see what other pharmacies charged, it ranged from that $70 to $107.)

When I quit taking it, I'd just refilled my prescription so I had a 30-day supply on hand when my internist gave her approval for my resumption. I wasn't worried when Costco told me the first time I went that they didn't have enough pills to fill my prescription. After all, I had plenty at home to get started on and I figured they'd get a new supply within a few days. 

But they haven't. And they tell me it's back-ordered and they don't know when they will receive more. 

So I looked at my dwindling supply and decided that I needed to save the 17 I have left for "special" occasions. Like Ellie's first day of first-grade next week, when I want to go along for drop-off. And I'll need that artificial energy boost to survive travel to and from Chicago later this autumn. 

So I stopped taking it on Friday. And while Friday itself was manageable -- aided by the fact that I didn't have to leave the house -- I really started feeling the loss yesterday, when I pretty much needed a nap when I finished breakfast. 

The irony is that the Adderall doesn't give me a huge boost. It's actually somewhat disappointing since my fantasy was that it would make me feel fully human again with a normal (whatever that is!) sense of energy, and it definitely doesn't. But it gives me enough improvement that I can do something, even if I feel drained, at least for a couple hours. Funny how the improvement felt negligible until it went away, and then I realized how much improvement I'd had.

Googling the issue suggests that there has been a shortage of medicines like Adderall since sometime in early spring. Apparently the Drug Enforcement Agency is limiting some of the raw materials used to make the meds as part of its efforts to combat prescription drug abuse. (See news story here.) Since the shortage was supposed to only last a couple months, I'm not sure why it's still a problem. But it apparently is.


Red Stethoscope said...

Gah! Oh, no! I hope that you get some soon. Also, the price is outrageous at other pharmacies...craziness!

Penelope said...

This post is from a while ago, so you have probably solved this issue already...but...have you tried Modafinil? I've been on it for a few weeks and it makes a difference. It is a stimulant, much like Adderall, but a different mechanism.