Shortage of Some ADHD Medicine (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust logo

You may have heard in the news that there are currently shortages of some medicines used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

This is impacting stockholding in both hospital and community pharmacies and as a result of this there may be times over the next few months when it may be more difficult to get hold of the following ADHD medications: 

Atomoxetine

  • certain strength capsules and oral solution 

Methylphenidate modified release tablets and capsules

  • certain strengths of Equasym capsules, Xaggitin XL tablets, Xenidate XL tablets 

Lisdexamfetamine (Elvanse and Elvanse Adult)

  • selected strengths 

Guanfacine (Intuniv)

  • Intuniv prolonged-release tablet (all strengths)

How long will the shortage last?

At present, the supply disruptions are expected to resolve at various dates between October and December 2023. These dates may be subject to change. 

This is a national supply problem and all UK ADHD services; paediatrics, CAMHS, Adults, and pharmacies within the community and in hospitals are affected.


I already have a prescription for ADHD medication.  What should I do if the community pharmacy cannot supply the medication? 

If one pharmacy is unable to obtain supplies, please try a different pharmacy. 

Find Pharmacies in your local area.  

Pharmacies may use different suppliers or wholesalers to source medicines so availability will depend on whether each pharmacy’s suppliers have stock or not. Please try visiting independent pharmacies as well as the larger Pharmacy chains, as their suppliers will differ. 

Where there is a known shortage of a medicine, supply levels can change quickly. This is why pharmacies in one area may be able to find a medicine and others may not.

Alternatively, it may be best to leave the prescription with a pharmacy that could check wholesaler stock levels daily and place an order. 

If you have contacted several pharmacies and are still unable to obtain a supply or you have already run out of medication, please contact the service or GP who gave you the prescription for advice. 

What are General Practitioners and Specialist ADHD services doing to manage the shortage of ADHD medicines? 

We know how important getting your medicines is. General Practitioners and ADHD services are working closely together to manage the medicines shortage.  If you are affected by the shortage, you may be offered the choice between taking a treatment break or changing your medication to one that is not currently affected by the supply shortage. In some cases, General Practitioners may need to refer you back to Specialist ADHD services.


What can I do to help? 

We ask that you continue to request prescriptions in the usual way but plan in advance by giving us at least 2-3 weeks’ notice of your repeat prescription. Please note, due to these supply issues, you will be given a maximum of one months’ supply of medication. 

If you need to contact the service who supply your prescriptions, please have information on the name of the medication you take and the number of tablets/capsules you have left when you contact them. 

You may be given a prescription for different strengths of medication than usual.  As an example, if you usually take one 36mg Xaggitin XL tablet once a day you may be issued with a prescription that requires you to take two Xaggitin XL 18mg tablets once a day instead.  Alternatively, you may be given a prescription for a different brand of medication that is equivalent to the brand that you usually take.  Please read the medication label/s carefully.  If you are unsure about how to take your medication, ask your community pharmacist for advice. 

For safety reasons, please do not take ADHD medication supplied to someone else or obtain a supply via the internet. 


What will happen after the shortage has resolved? 

You will be switched back to your original medication unless you agree with your ADHD specialist or GP to remain on the alternative medication. 

If you have had a treatment break and not noticed a worsening (or an improvement) in symptoms that break may continue.


My mental health has been affected by this medicine shortage.  What should I do?

If you need urgent help as you are in mental health distress, the Lancashire and South Cumbria Mental Health Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 0800 953 0110. The crisis line is staffed by trained mental health professionals.

How can I support my child through this medication shortage?

Please speak to schools to discuss the medication shortages and that this may have a temporary impact for your child in education. There is also the Healthy Young Minds website  which provides information and resources to support young people and their families with emotional health support.

Page last reviewed: 13/11/2023

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