Labour MS Sarah Murphy speaking in the Senedd
Labour MS Sarah Murphy speaking in the Senedd

People are struggling to cope due to a major national shortage of ADHD medication, the Senedd has heard.

Sarah Murphy called for an update from the Welsh Government on what it is doing to address the ongoing lack of ADHD drugs.

The Labour MS for Bridgend told the Senedd: “This is causing such distress to many people across Wales.”

About 122,000 people in Wales – or 4.7% of the population – have the condition, according to ADHD UK.

Ms Murphy said: “The ADHD Foundation says untreated ADHD makes focusing, remembering details and controlling impulses harder.

“And ADHD UK states that one in ten men or boys and one in four women or girls with ADHD will at some point try to take their own life.

“Yet – I’m being told at the moment that there is not very much support for them as they are being put on smaller doses to get them through while we have this shortage.”

Ms Murphy explained that drug company Takeda has a near-monopoly on one of the medicines, Elvanse, because there are no generic alternatives on the market.

She pointed out that Takeda UK’s patent ran out in February 2023 as she asked whether the Welsh Government could explore producing the drug here, so people never have to go short on their ADHD medicine.

Eluned Morgan said the supply of medicines is a responsibility for the UK Government “and we won’t be stepping into that space”.

The health minister explained that the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has added all ADHD medications to the list of medicines which cannot be exported.

“That means that they will be prioritising available supplies for the UK,” she said during health questions in the Senedd on Wednesday October 18.

The DHSC issued a national patient safety alert in late-September, warning of a shortage of three ADHD medications which could last until December.

The department said the supply disruption is caused by a combination of manufacturing issues and increased global demand.

Altaf Hussain, the Conservative MS for South Wales West, stressed that one of the drugs, Guanfacine, should not be stopped suddenly.

The former orthopaedic surgeon raised concerns about GPs and ADHD services being told not to start new patients on medication.

Ms Morgan said it is important that clinicians can take decisions but they have been given guidance on what they should be prescribing.

In a written statement, the health minister said anyone who is having difficulty obtaining treatment should contact their doctor or pharmacist.