Emerging Antibiotic Shortage Could Have Deadly Consequences

By Brian Scheid | Published

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When we go to the doctor’s office because we are not feeling well, then the visit ends in the same way with the doctor scribbling something on his prescription pad and giving us oral directions on when and how much of the medication to take. At that point in our minds, it’s a done deal, all we need to do is stop by the pharmacy on the way home pick it up, and then it’s nap time. But what if when you got to the pharmacy, they informed you they did not have your medication in stock, well we are currently seeing this situation unfold in many locations around the nation, as an antibiotic shortage emerges among other medication shortages.

Experts have dubbed it a tripledemic virus spike that has put a major strain on medications that are used to treat flu, RSV, and Covid-19. According to Good Morning America, “The FDA’s most recent update on flu antivirals says there isn’t an official shortage of Tamiflu, although “we are aware that there may be localized shortages where demand is especially high.” They claim it’s a case of not having the right volumes in the right places.

With medication shortages starting to gain national attention retail drug outlet CVS is acknowledging that they are seeing an increase in demand for these products. They also are working diligently with their suppliers to ensure all their locations have ample inventory to meet those demands. Walgreens echo’s that approach as it works through its distribution network to ensure the needed volume of medications is being shuffled to the highest needed locations.

However, the story relayed to us by Good Morning America is about a Colorado mother of a 5-year-old daughter who has been prescribed Amoxicillin for an ear infection but she faced some hurdles in getting her child the medication she needed, indicating that an antibiotic shortage is imminent. It started with the doctor warning her after writing the prescription that it could be hard to find. She contacted 18 different pharmacies before she struck gold hearing the magic words that they had it in stock.

The Pharmacy was a 45-minute drive and they would not be able to hold it for her as it was first come, first serve. On her drive, she was terrified that by the time she arrived someone else might have scooped up the last of it and it would become a wasted trip and putting her back to square one. Luckily for her, they still had some on hand when she did arrive but, realizing that there was an antibiotic shortage was a hair-raising experience that made her fear for her daughter’s wellbeing.

Some workaround suggestions that experts are giving if all the local pharmacies are out of the medication that you need are you can ask your doctor for a written prescription instead of a digital one so you have more flexibility in moving from pharmacy to pharmacy. The digital prescriptions need to be electronically forwarded from store to store which can take time. You also could ask for a different formula or dosage from your doctor that is less in demand.

Amoxicillin oral powder was added to the Food and Drug Administrations’ medication shortage list on October 28, 2022. We will continue to monitor this situation to see if the supply chain corrections that the major pharmacies are taking correct the problem or if this is the beginning of a much bigger crisis.