When it's time to renew her son's prescriptions for medicine to treat his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Roxanne Ryan prepares for another wild goose chase.
The Philadelphia mother says she typically has to call around to 10 to 15 different pharmacies to find where the prescriptions can be filled. And when 10-year-old Sergey doesn't get his medication, he's a bundle of uncontained energy.
"It's like having a hundred channels racing through your mind," Ryan says. "He can't sit still. He would interrupt the lesson. He can't complete a thought."
It's hard enough to cope with ADHD without having to call around to find where his prescription can be filled, Ryan says. It's some sort of luck that she also suffers from the disorder. So she's been able to meet his needs so far by giving him some of her prescription – while she does without.
The scarcity of ADHD medications is a problem faced by an untold number of children and adults with the disorder.
For instance, in Chicago, Natalie Smith recently spent hours calling drugstores on behalf of her college-student son Andrew.