More than 10,000 patients prescribed key ADHD medication in Greater Manchester – amid warnings of drug shortage
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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a condition which impacts many people across the UK.
Adults and children with the condition may have difficulty concentrating, act impulsively and appear restless.
In September, the NHS issued a national patient safety alert about a shortage of certain drugs used to treat the condition.
These include some formats of the most prescribed drug for ADHD – methylphenidate hydrochloride – alongside all lisdexamfetamine and guanfacine medication. The NHS has previous said there is also a shortage of some types of atomoxetine.
Figures from the NHS Business Services Authority show 10,325 patients were prescribed one of these drugs in some form in the NHS Greater Manchester integrated care board integrated care board area in the three months to June.
Henry Shelford, CEO of the ADHD UK charity, said medication is "life-changing" for those with the condition – and taking it away can have disastrous consequences for individuals with ADHD.
He said: "The NHS should have realised that this was happening and had a plan in place. Instead, people are only finding out when their pharmacy can't supply. They've been left stranded with no support.
"Medication is carefully given with dosage and type worked out over months. The idea it can be chopped and changed is wrong."
"This is devastating for individuals across the country and will be life-changing for some. People with ADHD are being let down by the NHS – this is just the latest way in which we are being failed," he added.
Across all forms of ADHD medication, 10,951 patients were given a prescription in Greater Manchester in the three months to June.
This was a rise from 8,849 patients during the same period last year, and a jump of 69 per cent from 6,494 recipients in the spring of 2020.
These figures cover how many patients with an NHS number picked up a prescription during that time frame – accounting for 82 per cent of ADHD prescriptions received in the area. In 2020, this covered 91 per cent of ADHD prescriptions.
The ADHD Foundation said just over 200,000 (10 per cent) of an estimated two million UK citizens with the condition are receiving medication.
Tony Lloyd, CEO of the charity, said ADHD has been significantly underdiagnosed – particularly among women. He attributes the increase in prescribing to "rebalancing" this underdiagnosis.
However, he added: "Medication should not be used in isolation and should form part of a range of strategies and lifestyle choices to manage ADHD successfully."
The shortages are expected to be resolved between October and December.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "We are aware of supply issues affecting medicines used for the management of ADHD due to increased global demand, and we have issued communications to the NHS to advise healthcare professionals on management of patients during this time.
"We continue to work closely with the respective manufacturers to resolve the issues as soon as possible and to ensure patients have continuous access to ADHD medicines in the UK."