SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) – Some crucial medications to help fight off cold and flu winter bugs are in low supply amid a surge of illnesses.
More than one month after the FDA reported a shortage of the commonly used antibiotic amoxicillin, some providers are struggling to locate pharmacies that have the medicine.
“This is the first time in my 35-year career that we’ve had such short supplies of so many common medications,” said Dr. Shelly Senders, founder and CEO of Senders Pediatrics.
The pediatric practice is working to ensure children have the medicine needed by spending more time on the phone with pharmacies.
“It’s crazy every day,” said Senders. “We have to have one of our nurses call 10 different pharmacies to find out who has it and only two of the 10 have it on any given day.”
The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals report being impacted by a supply shortage of certain doses and formulations of amoxicillin.
A spokesperson for University Hospitals said availability of the antibiotic is inconsistent. The shortage is expected to last through February.
“This causes challenges as health care providers often need to find alternate pharmacies, change instructions for available product concentration (increasing the risk of error) or switch to alternate antibiotics that may lead to greater side effects,” according to a written statement from a UH spokesperson.
There is also a market shortage of the antiviral liquid medicine Tamiflu. CVS and Walgreens report temporary shortages of the medicine used to treat flu symptoms.
A CVS spokesperson said it is working with manufacturers to replenish amoxicillin supply as fast as possible. A spokesperson for Walgreens said although demand for amoxicillin increased, it’s still able to meet patient needs.
Cefdinir, a medication used to treat ear infections, is also in low supply, Senders said. In the meantime, patients should prepare for the possibility of driving farther to get prescriptions filled.
“The problem is amoxicillin is the simplest, easiest, safest medication to be used for strep, for ear infections, for pneumonia, so it’s your first-line medication,” said Dr. Senders. “When you have society using second and third-line medication, instead of first-line medication, you develop more resistance and then down the road, we don’t have medications that work which is the real worry in this situation.”
Senders said providers are often powerless when dealing with medication shortages. He encouraged the public to contact their congressional representative for additional solutions.