Caffeine Searches Spike after FDA Announces Nationwide Adderall Shortage

One week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a shortage of the immediate release formulation of amphetamine mixed salts, commonly referred to by the Adderall brand name, searches for "caffeine vs. Adderall" spiked on Google.

The FDA posted the Adderall shortage on its drug shortage website on October 12. It explained in a release that one manufacturer of amphetamine mixed salts, Teva, "is experiencing ongoing intermittent manufacturing delays."

"Other manufacturers continue to produce amphetamine mixed salts, but there is not sufficient supply to continue to meet U.S. market demand through those producers," the release said.

Amphetamine mixed salts such as Adderall are approved by the FDA to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. A child with ADHD may experience trouble with paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors and being overly active, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Narcolepsy can go hand in hand with "excessive daytime sleepiness" and sudden muscle weakness, the CDC said.

FDA Adderall Shortage
The exterior of the U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA) headquarters is seen on July 20, 2020, in White Oak, Maryland. One week after the FDA announced a shortage of amphetamine mixed salts, commonly referred to by the Adderall brand name, searches for "caffeine vs. Adderall" spiked on Google. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

"Until supply is restored, there are alternative therapies including the extended-release version of amphetamine mixed salts available to health care professionals and their patients for amphetamine mixed salts' approved indications," the FDA said in the release. "Patients should work with their health care professionals to determine their best treatment option."

The fact that "caffeine vs. Adderall" has become a breakout query on Google since the FDA announced the shortage could reflect public interest in potential alternatives to the drug. Both Adderall and caffeine are considered stimulants, which means they can help people become more awake and alert, and may even be used to try to improve concentration and memory, according to a GoodRX Health article written by Austin Ulrich, a board-certified ambulatory care clinical pharmacist.

Ulrich wrote that it is not recommended for people to substitute products containing caffeine for medications like Adderall, but noted that some research indicates that caffeine can help with some parts of cognitive performance. He cited a 2016 review study that found that low or moderate amounts of caffeine can improve alertness, vigilance, attention and reaction time. The study, however, found that when it came to memory, judgment and decision making, "less consistent effects" were observed.

The FDA said that it would continue to monitor supply for the drug and aid manufacturers "with anything needed to resolve the shortage." It also said that it would update its website with any new information on supply for amphetamine mixed salts as it emerges.

"We continue to use all the tools we have available to help keep supply available for patients and will provide public updates regarding the Adderall shortage," the FDA wrote.

The administration did not elaborate on the cause of manufacturer Teva's ongoing delays, or immediately provide any projection for when the issues would be resolved.

Newsweek reached out to the FDA for further comment.