A worldwide Vyvanse, expected to last months, has left pharmacists inundated with requests for the popular ADHD medicine.
In 2022, over 3 million PBS prescriptions for ADHD medicines were dispensed to more than 400,000 Australians. Lisdexamfetamine, sold as Vyvanse, was the second most-prescribed medicine for ADHD that year, behind methylphenidate.
There has been a shortage of Vyvanse 30mg since August last year, with the 40 mg, 50 mg and 60 mg strengths also in low supply.
At his pharmacy on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Cristian Bonvin MPS fields multiple enquiries a day related to Vyvanse, both from people coming in with prescriptions and those calling to see what he has in stock.
While most patients are aware of the shortage, he said reactions to the situation differ.
‘You have people who understand and people who get upset as if it was our fault,’ Mr Bonvin said. ‘I just explain that the shortage is Australia-wide, that it comes from the manufacturer and that a lot of people are in the same situation.
‘I tell them the best option is to talk to a doctor, but it can be hard to get an appointment with a specialist and you have to pay as well. Sometimes they might be a bit rude.’
Counselling patients who have been prescribed Vyvanse also takes longer due to the shortage, he said.
In Mr Bonvin’s experience, doctors will prescribe a higher strength and get the patients to disperse the capsule in water, so he needs to counsel them in regards to that to ensure they get the correct prescribed dose.
At TerryWhite Chemmart Kogarah in Sydney, Daisy Cheung MPS said stock management has been vital to ensure patients can get the right supply.
‘We still have strengths that are available,’ she said. ‘We’ve sourced it from different suppliers, and also ordered a month or two of inventory knowing that it might go out of stock.
‘We do have cases where someone who was on 40 mg might need to go down to 20 mg and take double the amount, but I’ve always been able to supply something.’
Limited availability until April
There will be limited availability of Vyvanse, distributed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, until supply normalises between March and April due to temporary interruptions to supply. The supply of 20 mg and 70 mg capsules is not currently impacted.
Dr Ben Hopkins, Takeda Franchise Director – Gastroenterology, Neuroscience, Vaccines, Oceania Cluster, said the stock shortages are ‘the result of manufacturing delays compounded by increased demand’.
‘The demand for ADHD medicines has risen substantially over the past 2 years and continues to do so,’ Dr Hopkins told AP. ‘To help meet this increased demand and ensure future supply continuity, Takeda is in the process of transferring manufacturing operations to an internal facility, which has additional capacity, in mid-2024.’
He said the company has reserved a limited emergency supply of all strengths ‘for instances of urgent patient need’. Takeda considers these to be patients with no alternative who would be requiring supply within the next 7 days.
Pharmacists can request stock through the Takeda online portal.
‘We are working with the TGA to manage the shortage and are doing everything we can to resolve these interruptions as quickly as possible,’ Dr Hopkins said.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) advises pharmacists to prioritise the dispensing of Vyvanse to ‘ongoing patients where possible’ to ‘help preserve available supplies for stable patients and maintain continuity of treatment’.
For the latest information on the shortage, see the TGA website.