Health center discontinues Adderall prescriptions

Katie Bultman

The NMU Health Center will no longer prescribe medications for ADD and ADHD, due to a number of controversies, including medication abuse at universities and extensive paperwork. Robin Aho, the medical office manager at the campus pharmacy said the university has been considering ADD/ADHD prescription options for a while. According to Aho, it’s difficult to gauge which students need the medication.

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“We’re just making that distinction,” Aho said. “Because there is a lot of information that has to be in the patient’s chart.” Aho said the number of students requesting ADD/ADHD medication has increased while the staff has not, making it more difficult to document patient charts that need to include data such as testing information and follow-up visits.

The current prior authorization request for ADD/ADHD therapy includes a Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) report and requires newly diagnosed patients to have a confirmed diagnosis from a mental health professional.

Adderall and other forms of ADD/ADHD medication have sparked controversies in universities like California State University and the University of Alabama, where students have been likely to sell the prescription drugs to their peers, which Aho said is certainly something to consider on a college campus.

“Stimulant medication is known to be an abused medication,” Aho said. “There are issues with insurance companies not wanting to approve early refills, police reports needing to be filed, and the majority of patients were appropriate, but there were instances of repeat ‘lost medications,’  ‘friend or acquaintance stealing meds,’ etc., which then becomes an issue.”

For patients like senior management major Shelby Braman, the new policy forces students to find care elsewhere.

Early this summer, Braman was made aware of the policy changes at the health center by one of the university physicians. 

Braman was told fewer doctors are willing to prescribe medications for ADD and ADHD in college towns.

“With studying, I need the medication, or to make it through classes, or to make it through a shift of work,” Braman said. Her physician at the campus pharmacy suggested seeing a family doctor back home instead. “He said, ‘They know you, they know your history, they’ll be more apt to help you compared to a doctor around here.’”

Braman said she would have had to sign a release for her doctor back home to transfer everything, and she would have probably been asked a couple more questions.

“The first time you have to be present to receive the medication, because the doctor wants to actually confirm that you have that because of the type of medication I get,” Braman said. “After that, the doctor knows. Sometimes they may say, ‘you need to come in for a six-month checkup, make sure everything, the doses, are correct and stuff.’

“For most of my prescriptions that I get refilled I just have to call them and then the doctor will send the prescriptions where you want it to go.”

The Health Center Web page nmu.edu/healthcenter offers information about the new policy under the services tab, where students can find a link to “Services Not Available.” It also provides a list of local providers and local testing for ADD/ADHD.

The Health Center hours are Monday through Friday, which Aho said is also a problem for students seeking prescription medication on weekends.

“If it’s after hours or on a weekend, we’re not here to do prior authorizations, and that can be frustrating if a student’s waiting at a pharmacy and it’s held up, maybe it’s better to do it somewhere else,” Aho said. “Pharmacies are really good at giving information about what’s involved because almost all of them are requiring prior authorization now, too.”

Peninsula Pharmacy located on 1414 W. Fair Ave., is one of the pharmacies nearest to campus. The pharmacy is one location students can still get prescription medications for ADD and ADHD, according to owner Tyler Jenema, who holds a doctor of pharmacy.

Jenema said little has changed in what Peninsula Pharmacy is able to provide for people.

He did recommend students bring a copy of their insurance card and driver’s license, along with any hard copy of the prescription needed.

“The biggest hang-up we see with students is that they don’t have the insurance card with them,” Jenema said. “Making sure they have it is going to make it a lot quicker and more streamlined.”

This still doesn’t cover the issue students may have of finding a physician to prescribe the medication.

“I understand why the university is doing it, to protect themselves, but at the same time I don’t think it was gone about the best way because I know there are more kids who are more extreme than me that need it and when you just cut it off for them, it could have caused issues,” Braman said. “I understand the university’s end of it, but I also understand the student’s end of it and I feel like it wasn’t handled in the best situation it could have.”

According to Aho, the new policy was considered at the end of the semester last year.

“We were trying to get it rolled out, so I think the providers were trying to talk to some of the students,” Aho said. “Like a lot of times, things happen, you bring it up, then the semester ends and it’s kind of cold over the summer because students have gone home. Then when students came back there were still some that didn’t know of the policy yet. We didn’t have it all on the website or anything yet, so it kind of brought it more to light again.”

The decision was made by a number of members at the university, according to Aho. The Health Center staff works with the Finance & Planning Division, Internal Audit and Public Safety on a decision of this nature.

“We’re under the finance department,” Aho said. “So it was a decision the whole university is weighing in on.”