Contingency plans need to be made for ADHD medication shortage - The Irish News view

A three-year cross border project has provided support to families and carers affected by ADHD

WHEN someone is living with what is quite clearly a difficult and debilitating disorder, being able to counter the symptoms with treatment is an absolute must.

Therefore, news that people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are facing continued delays in getting medication is of great concern.

Commonly known by its acronym ADHD, it is a condition which can turn the sufferer’s world completely upside down, impacting on their home life as well as work, school and social activities.

Symptoms of ADHD include constant fidgeting, impulsivity, great difficulty concentrating on tasks and excessive talking and interrupting.

“Life-changing” medication such as methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine and guanfacine have been used for years to offset those symptoms and enable those living with the condition to have some quality of life.

But since September 2023, patients here have been facing increasing shortages of that medication, even though, at the time, the messaging was that it was a short-term issue and would be resolved by Christmas.

In yesterday’s paper, the Department of Health told us that the shortages are now expected to be resolved “between May and September, depending on the strength and preparation affected”.

Well, we’re into May and still delays prevail. And September must seem a long way off for those people either already without medication or running desperately low.

One concerned mother told us yesterday how her 11-year-old child has been unable to access the medication they so greatly need for three weeks now.

A single day without countering the symptoms of ADHD must be hard enough for someone of such tender years but three weeks? And it’s three weeks and counting.

The Belfast woman pointed out her unmedicated child has been “suffering from mood swings and really struggling at school”.

That alone is of deep concern, particularly at what can be a challenging time for children facing the pressures of exams and assessments. If they can’t concentrate enough to complete those, through no fault of their own, then their progress will be stunted so hopefully some dispensation will be given for that.

Another person who has been on ADHD medication for 20 years, having been diagnosed when he was seven, spoke of his concerns knowing he is about to run out of tablets.

“When I go without it,” he revealed, “just being able to do things and focus on things gets really hard”. He added: “It’s completely debilitating.”

This is not solely a local issue. An increase in ADHD diagnosis across the globe has placed a crippling pressure on the manufacture and supply of medication.

A local solution must be looked at should the situation continue, however. What contingency planning is happening if shortages continue and how will those plans be implemented?