Drug War

Does the DEA Know What Quota Means?


As Mike Riggs noted this morning, the Adderall shortage is not likely to end anytime soon. A recent Reuters story sheds some more light on the situation:

A shortage of Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, shows little sign of easing as manufacturers struggle to get enough active ingredient to make the drug and demand climbs….

The Drug Enforcement Administration tightly regulates how much of the drug's active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) can be distributed to manufacturers each year.

The system is designed to prevent the creation of stockpiles that could be diverted for inappropriate use…

Under the quota system, drugmakers receive enough material to meet what the DEA estimates will meet the legitimate needs of American patients, but not enough to build inventory…

Adderall manufacturers say they are working flat out to meet demand, and say the DEA does not always approve enough material in time for them to supply customers.

"Our production facilities are currently running at maximum capacity for Adderall utilizing all available API," said Teva's Bradley. "The catalyst for the problem is the quota system, not the business."

The DEA sets its aggregate quota at the beginning of each year, taking into account past quota levels, inventory levels and company sales forecasts. But the DEA's assessment of what a company needs may not be the same as the company's own estimates. It is an ongoing process of negotiation.

"DEA can come back and say, 'we agree with your forecast and issue everything you want,' or they may come back and say 'we don't think you need that much,' and they give you 75 percent," said Matt Cabrey, a spokesman for Shire.

Early last year, Shire suffered shortages of Adderall XR. "It was directly related to the API quota," Cabrey said. In June 2010, Shire calculated that API was running too low. It applied to the DEA for more, but did not receive the additional supply until December. It typically takes Shire three months to then make the product and get it to customers….

The DEA, while insisting its quota for 2011 was sufficient, nonetheless revised it upwards in December.

"We increase the aggregate so that we will have enough to respond to specific companies if their requests for more amphetamine salts are justified and needed," said Carreno. "The companies can and do request more amphetamine salts, and we can and do respond to those requests throughout the year."

Simply increasing the overall national quota, however, does not address company complaints that it takes DEA months to approve individual requests for new product.

In the face of manufacturers' complaints, the DEA continues, absurdly, to deny that it has anything to do with the shortage:

 The DEA says recent shortages were not caused by an insufficient quota but by marketing decisions taken by the companies.

"Any shortage of these products is therefore a result of decisions made by industry regarding manufacturing or distribution," Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman said, though she declined to specify those decisions….

Asked why it might take the agency months to approve a company's request, the DEA said it is required by law to balance providing enough API to meet the legitimate needs of patients while protecting the public from any diversion of potentially lethal substances.

"We do our best to accomplish both missions, and the quota system is part of the process for achieving this," Carreno said.

As with painkillers, the goal of preventing "diversion" fundamentally conflicts with the goal of making sure that everyone who can benefit from the drug has ready access to it. In both cases, the DEA insists there is no such conflict, but the agency's raison d'être is making useful drugs harder to obtain. How could it not be at fault for a shortage it engineered through the quota system it enforces?

[Thanks to Amy Alkon for the tip.]

NEXT: Iran Saber-Rattling; Fed "Transparency"; Fiddle Sticks, and More: P.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Wait until Obamacare kicks in. You’ll have to wait in line for Tylenol.

    1. You know, there is plenty of real stuff to worry about without making shit up.

      1. Hyperbole, my ass,……just wait and see.

      2. Where is my fucking sudafed, prick?

      3. Why should the Tylenol comment be hyperbole? Look at this story: EVERY time The Smart Experts
        take over an industry and use their super smart expertise to figure out exactly what is needed (so much better than the market can), we end up with shortages. Market-market forces+centrally planned command economy ALWAYS ends this way. Why do we even have to think about this, let alone allow it to be done?

        1. but this time, the Right People are in charge. it’ll work. By God, IT WILL WORK THIS TIME!!!!

      4. Tylenol is terrible for your liver. It could easily be made a prescripion-only medication on that basis alone.

    2. Hyperbole, Zeb, he’s using hyperbole.

    3. A shortage of Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

      This explains much.

  2. Asked why it might take the agency months to approve a company’s request, the DEA said it is required by law to balance providing enough API to meet the legitimate needs of patients while protecting the public from any diversion of potentially lethal substances.

    Hahahaha they don’t even attempt to answer the question. Christ, what a bunch of fuckbags.

    1. I am late to the thread, but I had copied the same lines and was going to say the same thing. What the fuck are we doing letting government bean counters tell the market how much of anything it needs?

      I fear they have gone so far beyond the pale, and are still going full steam ahead, that it is going to end badly…….for them.

      1. What the fuck are we doing letting government bean counters tell the market how much of anything it needs?

        You DARE question the all knowing and all powerful Ozbama?

  3. I think about 50% of my news-reading life is spent answering the question “Is it possible to hate [three-letter agency] more?” in the affirmative.

    Always in the affirmative.

    1. Just wait until the National Masturbation Agency is up and running. Pun intended.

      1. Rick Santorum will be chairing that one, right? For the not-yet-extant children, of course.

        1. Vice Chair.

    2. Only if Santorum or Bachmann win.

      1. Please for the love of liberty tell me your being sarcastic Tonio!

  4. It’s an election year: Why would the government want anyone paying attention?

  5. balance providing enough API to meet the legitimate needs of patients while protecting the public from any diversion of potentially lethal substances.

    I’m pretty sure no one is encountering those “potentially lethal substances” without knowing about them and paying handsomely for them. So it doesn’t seem like there’s much danger to the public there.

  6. Asked why it might take the agency months to approve a company’s request, the DEA said it is required by law to balance providing enough API to meet the legitimate needs of patients while protecting the public from any diversion of potentially lethal substances.

    So the DEA has implemented a kind of Soviet-style system where they predict the needs of millions of people and then structure a supply chain around it.

    And any failure in this tightly controlled system is a “market failure”. Check.

    1. But see, they don’t predict. Their supplicants predict. Then they tailor the prediction. But since they didn’t make the original prediction, it’s a “market failure”.

      Blame shifting is so much fun.

      1. The DEA can’t help it if parents and doctors are overmedicating kids. It’s a good thing we have them there to keep this potentially-lethal substance in check.

        1. and of course those issues are tangential. i have no doubt that dr’s are overmedicating kids, partly because of the philosophy of western medicine, partly because of the influence of pharma, and partly because it’s easy to throw a pill at a problem…

          that’s tangential to the fact that the DEA shouldn’t be creating shortages of drugs that MD’s/patients think are necessary for their health in order to lessen the risk of diversion by criminals.

          the idea that patients should suffer (as they invariably do) because DEA is trying to prevent diversion is wrong, but it continues

          it happens with opioids, and it happens with stimulants.

          if criminals found a way to make a recreational drug out of estrogen, we’d be seeing a bunch of pissed off women who couldn’t get birth control

        2. Let’s be real here. Nobody “suffers” from ADD and one pill IS over-medicating. That being said, I don’t think the DEA fuckbags really need to be shorting people of something they think will help.

          Disclaimer: I have ADD.

          1. Well, people may or may not suffer from ADD, but if one is taking a stimukant daily for years and that prescription is unable to be filled now…. that would definitely fall into the suffering category.

          2. And you are an expert in this how?

            1. he may not be an expert, but anybody with ANY knowledge of pharmacology knows that you take a strong stimulant for any period of time, and you become addicted and suffer withdrawal

              try drinking strong coffee for a few months, and you get the same effect

              it holds true with caffeine, meth, amphetamine, caffeine, etc

    2. DEA has implemented it because Congress mandated it. It’s not like DEA had the discretion to not adopt a quota system.

      1. There is no bureaucratic ass-hattery that isn’t rooted in Congressional dickheadedness. It isn’t like it is even worth noting.

        1. And there is no Congressional dickheadedness that isn’t rooted in crony capitalist douche-baggery! But this is worth mentioning because people honestly think that its just someone at the top making miscalculations. I would be willing to bet that a different (establishment) drug company needs the same API and ensures their implanted politicians make sure they’ve got more than enough and their smaller competitors don’t!

  7. This is pretty clearly a market failure.

    Answer: increase DEA enforcement powers and budget.

    Problem solved.

    Man, for a magazine called “Reason”….

    1. Thanks I was almost sober. It was horrible.

  8. “There is no truth to the rumor that we have set the production quota for Rearden Metal too low.”

    It gets harder and harder to find the exaggerations in AS every year.

    1. That made me smile 🙂

    2. I was thinking more like 1984. ‘Miniluv has raised the Adderall ration from 70 milligrams a week to 200 milligrams a month. Thank Big Brother for our increased prosperity’

      1. I think that would be Miniplenty, not Miniluv.

        1. It doesn’t matter…no one gets the 70mg anyway.

    3. No shit. I just re-read it and kept getting confused. I kept having to check the book cover to see that I had not inadvertently picked up a current newspaper.

  9. Someone will have to explain how limiting production will keep the “wrong people” from getting the stuff. Are the “wrongs” picking up the excess out of the dumsters behind the factories?


    2. actually, i don’t think this logic is faulty, it’s just that it’s not a fair tradeoff.

      diversion IS a problem (given the WOD in the first place, which is problematic).

      but simply put, patients shouldn’t suffer so that DEA can make life more difficult for criminals

      why the fuck should patients have to suffer and deal with this bullshit. they don’t work for the DEA, and it’s not their battle

      1. All the DEA is doing is delaying production, limiting supply and raising price (and driving manufacturing to “cheap foreign labor, but that’s another issue).

        It would more straight forward if they just taxed the stuff and left it at that.

        1. what would be straightforward is if they went after the criminals (who are only criminals because of the WOD but i digress) and stop making patients suffer, and dr’s jump through hoops;

      2. I dont really know a thing about the drug trade so forgive me if I seem naive.

        If diversion is a problem, why is it only a problem with excess? Criminals wont steal from the quota system? It seems to me if the criminals target the stuff, and have a means of getting it, they are going to get it, excess or not.

        1. Presumably criminals are not as motivated as patients are.

          1. Or they are more motivated, because the more supply is limited the greater the profit margin.

      3. I have decided that, henceforth, I shall no longer reference the WoD. It’s a War on Flowers, WoF.

        They hate flowers!

    3. Presumably the people who need it won’t sell it, and the assumption is that if they got any more, they would.

      1. Of course the real concern would be sales by a mfr., distributor, or drug store, and since they’re not sick people but make money regardless of who they sell to, they have no reason to be deterred.

  10. Does the DEA Know What Quota Means?

    Of course they do. It means whatever they say it means.

  11. The Sis is an enthusiast of the LA riots. She thought it was great to “have a week & kill white people.” Her “music” advocates the same.

    1. Hey Brad,

      Larry called and want you to get back to gargling his balls post haste.

  12. Fuck it. Let ’em eat cake take Desoxyn.

  13. meanwhile, the potentially definitely lethal substance that would be a schedule II narcotic if it weren’t america’s cash crop continues to kill nearly half a million americans every year.

    bang up job there, barb.

  14. I’m not sure who I dislike more:

    Psychiatrists who think children should be given amphetamines, or the DEA who thinks recreational use of amphetamines is a grave evil.

    1. I vote for the parents who don’t want to deal with their children. Better to load them up on drugs.

    2. I’m not sure who I dislike more:

      Psychiatrists [Military leaders] who think children [soldiers in battle] should be given amphetamines….

  15. All of this stuff should be OTC anyways. The DEA and the BATFE and the TSA should all be eliminated.

    1. Please don’t forget the FDA!

      1. Of course. Especially now that they have their own goons squads as well. LIke you need a swat team to raid a small farm for selling raw milk. $&*##@#.

  16. While I don’t think the gub’ment should necessarily be involved in the pharmaceutical supply chain, I nonetheless find it hard to gather any sympathy for the pushers of narcotics for children.

    1. I think much of this stuff is now being consumed by adults. The DEA was fine with forcing kids to speed.

    2. the pushers of narcotics for children

      Oh fine, make me get all pedant on your ass. First, they aren’t narcotics; second, that is no way to talk about psychiatrists.

  17. A shortage of Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

    Who wants to chat about my fantasy league?

  18. ADD is a gold-plated excuse to avoid boring shit and take legal speed. I haven’t actually met anyone who was truly unable to focus on interesting stuff.

    1. Loretta Swit is still hot.

      1. Did the Joker have a sex change?

    2. “ADD is a gold-plated excuse to avoid boring shit and take legal speed. I haven’t actually met anyone who was truly unable to focus on interesting stuff.”

      You’d prefer the gov’t telling them they can’t have it?

      1. Where’d you get that from? I think anyone should be able to take any drug they want anytime. One shouldn’t have to make up pseudo-medical excuses complete with permission slip from medical high priest to get stoned/tripped/speeding whatever. I am in favor of carte blanc legalization of ALL drugs.

      2. Also, I have a good many co-workers whose standard excuse for why (insert any boring obnoxious task here) isn’t done is because they have “ADD”. Sack up and get it done! NOBODY likes boring obnoxious jobs. It’s why it’s called work.

    3. I haven’t actually met anyone who was truly unable to focus on interesting stuff.

      It’s the boring and mundane shit that people need to concentrate on. How the fuck else do expect people to be able to do their fucking jobs?

      Amphetemines are almost as good as mescaline at making even the most boring shit interesting.

      1. And the ability to concentrate on boring things is usually what separates the effective from the ineffective.

        1. Huh? FOOTBALL!

          1. Yay, Blue Devils, 2010 & 2011 champs of the Bronx Warriors Pee Wee Div. — http://www.eteamz.com/bronxwar…..te=5597869

            That’s me with the cap on. They haven’t lost a game since I’ve coached them.

            1. I have always thought it would be fun to do that.

              1. So do it! But as I’ve written, expect to lose your taste for being a mere spectator.

          2. Seriously, once you get into coaching football, if you’re like me, after a while you won’t be interested in watching it any more.

            1. The problem with watching it on TV is that you can’t see all 22 players. So you really don’t understand what is happening. Took me a long time after playing it from the time I was 8 until i graduated high school to stop letting that bother me. I would love to have an option on my TV where I could watch a wider all 22 view.

              1. Eventually that option will be available.

                TV or no, though, the effect of coaching on my interest in watching is the same as happened to my friend after he coached basketball & baseball. If they were playing a bowl game across the street with free admission for me, I’d be ho-hum.

                Playing rugby did not diminish my interest in watching that sport. Coaching is just a very different mind set.

    4. I’m not sure I understand you, though I am pretty certain you have only a vague idea yourself. Could you explain how your profound psycho-social insight will quantitatively improve the careers and academic performance of those of us who have the condition?

  19. Well this explains why my friend can never get his entire dosage filled at the pharmacy.

    I guess I shouldn’t be shocked AT ALL that it’s a government regulatory disaster….but somehow I am. =(

  20. How could it not be at fault for a shortage it engineered through the quota system it enforces?

    Because it has GOOD INTENTIONS!!!

    1. If there’s a hell, the FDA will be violently butt-fucking Satan into suicidal depravity — that’s how fucking evil the FDA is. I hope a Paul administration’s first priority is sending the 101st Airborne to eliminate all the terrorists at the FDA. Fucking scum.

      1. DEA. But the DEA is worse than the FDA, I think, by far.

    1. Wasn’t it around 26 for paul, 22 for Romney, and 16 for Santorum? You know, in the not-full-of-shit polls — the sort CNN doesn’t dabble in.

    2. Was watching the foxnews and voting for RP was equated with young children lashing out…..

      1. Yep.
        If you don’t have a point, why, make an accusation.
        That and innuendo works for TV “news” world-wide.

      2. That is what the media said in 1994 when they first kicked the Dems out of Congress. It was America throwing a temper tantrum. No kidding. They really said that in that many words.

    3. Everyone is starting to spit out actual vote totals, though they’re tiny amounts so far:

      Ron Paul 24% 2,273
      Rick Santorum 23% 2,160
      Mitt Romney 23% 2,152

    4. No Iowa Caucuses thread???

      Yeah, seriously. I came here to ask the same thing.

      Tonight is one of the biggest moments for libertarianism in modern U.S. political history*, and there’s no dedicated thread at Reason?

      (* The biggest moment for libertarianism in U.S. history was, of course, the country’s actual founding. Two centuries-something later, and we’re finally sort of getting another one…)

      1. Drudge is saying it is a virtual three way dead heat between Paul, Mittens and Santorum.

      2. CNN is very on top of the numbers. Paul still barely leading Frothy Mittens.

        1. I know Iowa isn’t exactly stocked with “metropolises,” but do the vote tabulations there come in as they typically do elsewhere — with bigger urban areas reporting later than small rural ones?

          And if so, is it safe to presume that these urban areas (e.g., Des Moines) are more apt to be Paul-friendly?

          1. Yes to both. Santorum is doing really well in the rural areas.

    5. Hell, I despise democracy and even I’m more interested in tonight’s Iowa vote drama than Reason magazine seems to be…

    6. Ugh. Forty-six percent of the vote in.


      1. Hey, Iowans – FUCK YOU!

      2. From what I can tell, Paul is around 30% in Des Moines, and it is only about 1/4 reporting so far.

  21. What can you say about a country that tolerates homosexuals but not smokers?

    1. We can say we got your number when you walked in the door.
      Oh, and the number is ZERO.

  22. Beavis and Butthead once thought a “quota” was 25 cents……uh, huh-huh……

  23. Isn’t Adderall the planet Princess Lea was from?

    1. I have unmasked the plot for world government, world money, and world central banking.

      1. And you plan to use the death star to destroy the peaceful planet of Adderall.

        1. Godesky’s Latest Sockpuppet could use some Adderall.

  24. Can I vote for this guy for President?

    Top Indian industrialist Rajiv Bajaj mocked the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday, saying the annual power bash in the Swiss Alps was the source of half the world’s problems.

    Rajiv Bajaj, the managing director of leading motorbike manufacturer Bajaj Auto, said he would reluctantly travel to the exclusive ski resort for the meeting for the first time later this month.

    “I think half the problems start from the World Economic Forum,” the no-nonsense executive told reporters at a product launch in New Delhi when asked about the glitzy January 25-29 meeting.

    He said he was a believer in the power of engineering to solve problems, not the sort of “top-down globalisation” espoused by world leaders and businessmen in Davos.

    He acknowledged that his father Rahul Bajaj, chairman of the Bajaj Group conglomerate, had been a regular at Davos over the last decades.

    India had a huge presence at last year’s Davos, including Sunil Mittal, head of Bharti Enterprises and Azim Premji, chairman of Indian software major Wipro.


  25. interesting comment that cnn made that bill gross likes RP.. thats a big economic gun

    1. I’m predicting now that [race riots] will be the major problem of the 1990s.

      1. That will be in response to my planned death star project.

      2. And you are pretty accurate:

        1. After we built the death star along with the trilateral commission, it was obvious that we needed the darkies to riot to cover our tracks. Starting those riots was one of the first jobs we gave to a young Sarah Palin.

          1. *sniff, sniff* GAG!
            Vermin shit!

            1. You encouraged it – now you live with it.

  26. shouldnt you be over at redstate mourning perry?

  27. As with painkillers, the goal of preventing “diversion” fundamentally conflicts with the goal of making sure that everyone who can benefit from the drug has ready access to it. In both cases, the DEA insists there is no such conflict, but the agency’s raison d’?tre is making useful drugs harder to obtain.

    The DEA can correctly insist there is no such conflict, because in a perfect world (which is what all laws assume) there would be exactly enough for every single person who needed it, and not a single pill left over. And trying for anything less than perfection would be immoral.

  28. How the hell is Michigan up at the half?

    Ah! Waiting for the late (or early) second-half swoon to crush the hearts of the B10 followers. Excellent! Carry on!

    1. Because VaTech is terrible. They didn’t beat anyone this year. They are the worst at large BCS choice ever.

      1. Remember kids, you can’t spell OVERRATED without VT.

  29. Off topic, but the racist bag of shit is now third in Iowa. Hahahahahaha!

    1. Obama has a primary challenger? Two of them? wow.

      1. I sure made a real difference when I challenged Clinton in 1996.

        1. You were only doing what we in the Kochtopus were telling you Lyndon.

    2. David Duke isn’t running, Max.

  30. Western Iowa (Santorum stronghold) and southern Iowa (Paul) haven’t reported much yet.

    So Romney may lose to a guy who has spent almost nothing on TV advertising and lost his last race by 18%, and/or an out-to-lunch kook who wants to bring us back to the gold standard and has a dodgy past.

    Meanwhile, Romney spent five years in Iowa, untold tens of millions, and he may actually get FEWER votes than he did in 2008. Wow.

    1. But they will play it as “Romney consolidates lead”.

      1. This will be our weakest nominee since Bob Dole.

        1. Yeah. Fortunately, Obama will be the weakest incumbent since Hoover. It really will be the loser bowl next November.

          1. Shit Sandwich/Giant Douchebag, 2012 Edition.

            1. Go bankrupt fast or really fast. Your choice.

    2. A lot of us would take that “kook” over Obama, any day.

      The Perfect Man is never going to be on the ballot.

  31. With 50% reporting, 50,000 voters have turned out. That will barely match 2008, even though this is a year where the fundamentals are good for us and energy should be high.

    Romney sucks.

  32. Well fuck. Looks like Paul is going to come in third while Romney and Santorum duke it out for first.

    Assholes are already saying this is it for Paul’s campaign, despite the fact that he’s going to come in second in New Hampshire while Santorum gets nothing there.

    1. It is amazing he did that well. Iowa is nothing but dumb fuck old time progs and dumb fuck SOCONs. Who voted for him there?

    2. It is amazing he did that well. Iowa is nothing but dumb fuck old time progs and dumb fuck SOCONs. Who voted for him there?

    3. On a positive note. There is always the Peruvian women’s javelin team. Wow. Take that Sarcasmic


      1. “She could stand to lose a little weight.”

        — Hollywood homosexual conspiracy

    4. As close as the vote is in Iowa, I’d be surprised if it winds up making a difference in delegates greater than 1 between Romney, Paul, and Santorum. They may wind up all with the same # of delegates. So this is all symbolism at this point. Is that how observers are treating coming in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd?

  33. Letting pigs be in charge of medicine. Fuck. I mean holy fucking fuck. Stupid pigs that have never been to medical school. It is like letting Cartman be in charge.

  34. Of course its not the DEA’s fault that there are more people wanting the drug than the DEA thinks should.
    The fault rests squarely on the shoulders of the pharma execs who let people know that the drug exists in the first place.

  35. lol,, the DEA is a joke. Plain and simple.


  36. The reality is that Shire has a new drug, called Vyvanse, which is strongly preferred by the DEA and a lot of psychiatrists. Vyvanse is essentially the same chemical as Adderall (amphetamine), but does not become activated until the liver removes the inert lisdex group (hence, Vyvanse=Lisdexamphetamine).

    The DEA has encouraged this shortage of Adderall as a way to make it easier to move patients over to Vyvanse, which is perceived to be much less suceptible to abuse. And it is. The world is not full of puppets and puppet masters, but people trying their best to make the world a better place. But this is of course precisely how evil comes into the world in its most expansive and dangerous forms.

  37. I disagree with what you said and this article in general. It’s not the DEA that wants people on Vyvanse. It’s Shire. Their patent ran out on Adderall XR so they want people to move over to Vyvanse because they have a patent on that. It’s a false shortage created by Shire. They lost millions when their patents expired for other drugs to the generic manufacturers. The generic companies haven’t been getting their contracted amount of ingredients. But Shire has been able to make what they want of the name brand expensive stuff. False shortage makes people buy their expensive name brand instead of generics for extra money, adding more demand on their product. Plus the shortage makes people move to Vyvanse which has no generic to compete with before the patent on Adderall XR runs out so they will be on that one instead of generic Adderall XR.

    This article just re-prints Shire’s PR messages. It then asks the DEA why it takes months to increase a quota. That DEA question is purposely misleading. It makes people think the DEA didn’t approve the quota. Truth is Shire didn’t apply for a quota increase till long into the shortage. They may have asked for a quota increase in June 2010, but once they subsequently created the shortage, no more requests. The DEA, various generic manufacturers, and others all implicate Shire. If the authors asked specific questions to the other side about this exact shortage it would show this. Shire has also done shady things like price manipulation in the past. Not the first time they took advantage of people.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.