The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has expressed concern that the “aggressive marketing practices” of telehealth companies may be contributing to overprescribing of drugs used to treat ADHD. attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a letter from the agency.
While the letter does not name specific companies, it is believed to be referring to telehealth companies such as Cerebral Inc. and Done Global Inc., whose prescribing practices have allegedly come under investigation by the DEA after bombarding social media with online ads in platforms like Instagram. and Facebook.
This decision follows an increase in Adderall prescriptions of 10.4% in 2021 and 10.9% through October 2022, after an annual increase of about 5% in the previous three years, according to data from the firm. of IQVIA research.
Adderall and the amphetamines used to make it are classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the DEA due to their high potential for abuse, along with opioids such as OxyContin and fentanyl.
Above, the total number of brand name and generic Adderall pills dispensed by US pharmacies last year. Teva sold the most Adderall in the US in 2021
Adderall prescriptions increased more than 10% in 2021 and through October 2022, after an annual increase of approximately 5% in the previous three years
The DEA is legally required to set production quotas each year for the ingredients of Schedule II drugs.
In December, the DEA announced that it would not allow any increase in the production of pharmaceutical ingredients used to make Adderall and other stimulants for the treatment of ADHD in 2023.
The letter, which was sent to drugmakers over the summer but previously unreported, was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The federal government will regulate the production of the ingredients needed to create the ADHD drug because of the potential for abuse.
The DEA’s decision to limit production, coupled with an increase in prescriptions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has reportedly contributed to Adderall shortages, as noted by the US Food and Drug Administration. USA in October.
Telehealth company Done has run ads featuring images of pills and promising rapid ADHD diagnoses.
Adderall prescriptions have increased steadily over the past 12 years. Figures include prescriptions for Adderall, brand name and generic, in the US.
Cerebral and Done have stated that they do not lobby doctors and provide essential services, but the DEA is currently investigating the companies’ prescribing practices. Pictured is a snapshot of a Cerebral video ad that ran in 2021 on Facebook
41 million prescriptions for Adderall were filled last year
A spokesperson for Teva, the largest maker of Adderall, stated: “Teva is committed to helping patients who need access to products prescribed by their healthcare providers, while also being fully committed to careful monitoring of products controlled by the DEA”.
The DEA’s letter explained how it was reviewing manufacturing quota requests from manufacturers due to the “heavy volume of ADHD drugs on the market coupled with aggressive marketing practices and unregistered marketing companies that drive quota requests.” .
The DEA must ensure that any quota granted for the manufacture of controlled substances used to treat ADHD is driven by a legitimate need and not improperly driven solely by profit, pressure from marketing companies, or a desire to gain greater involvement. on the market, all factors that led to an oversupply of opioids during the prescription opioid crisis,” said the letter, signed by Kristi O’Malley, assistant administrator in the DEA’s Diversion Control Division.
In December, the DEA announced that it would maintain the same production quota for ingredients used in the manufacture of Adderall and other attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs in 2023 as it was in 2022.
According to The Journal, telehealth companies Cerebral and Done have run ads featuring images of pills and promising rapid ADHD diagnoses.
Some physicians at these companies have claimed to feel pressured to prescribe stimulants, and internal presentations at Cerebral have reportedly highlighted the increased profitability of prescription stimulants to clients.
Adderall prescriptions increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2020, just before the virus broke out across the United States, the drug made up 1.1% of drugs. By September 2022, the number had more than doubled to 2.31% of all scripts written.
Both Cerebral and Done have stated that they do not lobby doctors and provide essential services, but the DEA is currently investigating the prescribing practices of these companies.
Cerebral has stated that it has not been charged with breaking any laws and is fully cooperating with the investigation, while Done has stated that it is committed to providing high-quality psychiatric care while complying with all relevant laws and regulations.
The DEA has also announced that it is considering revoking the ability of the mail-order pharmacy Truepill to handle controlled substances, alleging that the company has filled illegal Adderall prescriptions in the past.
Truepill has stated that it is cooperating with the DEA and will be able to prove that there were no wrongdoing.
Both Truepill and Cerebral have also announced that they will stop filling or prescribing stimulants, respectively.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is an amphetamine drug used to help people focus and avoid unwanted behavior.
It was heralded as a ‘game changer’ when it hit the market in 1996.
Who takes the drug?
The drug is prescribed for people who are diagnosed with ADHD.
But addiction centers say many healthy people are taking the drug to help with their work or social life.
How does it work?
It works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
This helps people with ADHD to focus better and prevents behavior problems.
How is it taken?
It is available as a fast-acting pill, taken two to three times a day.
Or it can be taken as a long-acting pill, once a day.
These are priced at $12.68 for 30 tablets, or around 42 cents per pill.
What is it like to quit the drug?
People who quit the drug are left in a state of increased agitation.
They also have slower brain and body movements, increased appetite, and unusual levels of tiredness.