CLEVELAND (WJW) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reporting a shortage of the commonly used antibiotic amoxicillin, right as the illnesses it would treat this cold weather season are beginning to rise.
“Right now, we do not have any we have alternative drugs,” said Klein’s Pharmacy Pharmacist Mike Shelley. “It’s been a little over a month it’s been pretty hard to get.”
The liquid form of the drug used by children is “currently in shortage,” according to the FDA. It’s used to treat bacterial infections in the ear, nose, throat and lungs, including pneumonia.
Amoxicillin isn’t used to treat viral infections like COVID-19, RSV or the flu. But as those illnesses are expected to increase this cold weather season, so are those secondary bacterial infections the viruses often cause.
Local hospital systems are adapting to the shortage, which is expected to continue to early next year, a Cleveland Clinic representative told FOX 8 in a statement Friday.
“Amoxicillin is the most commonly used antibiotic that we have and it’s what we call the first-line therapy for pneumonia and ear infections in most kids,” said University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Pediatrician Dr. Kevin Turner. “Having a decrease in availability is a challenge.”
There’s been “minimal impact” at MetroHealth’s retail pharmacies, a spokesperson said Friday.
“We have been working with our wholesaler to ensure we can maintain stock,” reads a statement. “Our pharmacies have been working with providers to let them know what available and potential alternatives [are] if necessary.”
At Klein’s Pharmacy in Cuyahoga Falls, capsules and chewable tablets are still available, however those options are not possible for all children to use. Although there are amoxicillin alternatives, calculating the correct dose for children requires additional time and attention, Shelley said.
“So, we’ve got to take time to re-calculate the dose. So, there is potential for error — dosing errors — when we’re doing that,” said Shelley. “Especially with the strain on pharmacy staff right now — everyone seems like they’re running down a person for most pharmacies in the area that I’ve spoke with. It just adds an extra piece.”
A University Hospitals spokesperson said Friday the drug is out-of-stock at in local pharmacies, and that the hospital system continues to “manage these shortages.”
“We continue to use it for inpatient care and are recommending capsules or chewable tablets, and other alternatives for outpatient use,” reads the statement.
The Cleveland Clinic is “working closely” with drug-makers and suppliers to provide it for patients. In some cases, it’s recommending alternative antibiotics “that are equally effective,” reads a statement.
“Parents can talk with their pediatrician if they have concerns.”
One nationwide database began showing a shortage two weeks ago, but the FDA first reported a shortage on Oct. 28, according to The Hill. Drug-makers attributed its unavailability to increased demand, The Hill reported.
Turner cautioned parents should not be alarmed at this point in the amoxicillin shortage.
“If it goes on for an extended period of time, it could become more of an issue but right now, it’s not a reason for panic,” said Turner.