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Common antibiotic amoxicillin in short supply amid high demand

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FDA cites long list of prescription drugs in “shorter supply”

By: Rebecca Petit | Posted at 6:08 PM, Nov 03, 2022 and last updated 11:03 AM, Nov 04, 2022

Amoxicillin is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic in the country, especially for children.

The Food and Drug Administration is warning of a supply shortage, with the liquid form of amoxicillin in shorter supply.

“It is commonly used, for ear infections, pneumonia, sometimes urinary tract infections too,” said Dr. David Berger, Pediatrician and owner of Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care.

Manufacturers of amoxicillin say the shortage is partly due to an increase in demand. This comes at a time when pediatricians across the country are seeing a rise in RSV.

Dr. Berger said the respiratory virus is spiking among children at his Tampa practice.

“We’ve definitely had our cases of RSV. We’ve had a couple of babies who had to go to the ER because they can have secondary respiratory problems,” said Dr. Berger.

Amoxicillin is not used to treat RSV or other viruses like the flu and COVID-19. However, Dr. Berger said kids with RSV may develop symptoms that may appear to be bacterial infections or contract a secondary bacterial illness, which would lead doctors to prescribe amoxicillin.

The limited supply means parents may have to try a few pharmacies to fill their child’s prescriptions or get a prescription for an alternative antibiotic.

“Work with a pharmacist there or with the prescriber to find another pharmacy that might have the drug in stock,” said Michael Ganio, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. “There may be a different concentration or a dosage form that’s available, but there are also several other options that can be used as far as antibiotics go.”

Pharmacies in the Tampa Bay Area said they had not seen the impact of the shortage so far. Multiple manufacturers of amoxicillin are also citing the scarcity of raw materials.

“There have been several pieces in the international market preventing some of these raw materials to come to the country for the production of those goods,” said Dr. Amir Neto, professor of Economics at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Economists said if the shortage continues, consumers may have to pay more for amoxicillin and other prescribed drugs.

The FDA is tracking a long list of prescription drugs that are in shorter supply.

The FDA says a major reason for these shortages is quality/manufacturing issues. Production delays with the manufacturer and with raw materials and components from suppliers are also contributing to the shortages.

ABC Action News reached out to most Bay Area hospitals to find out how the shortage is impacting them, particularly when it comes to Amoxicillin.

Here are some of their responses:

Sarasota Memorial: Right now, our Amoxicillin supply is sufficient, and the shortage is not impacting hospitalized patients or clinical decision-making. The form of the medication in short supply is the suspension, which is primarily prescribed for pediatric patients in an outpatient setting. SMH is developing contingency plans in case the shortage becomes long-term and we have to modify/adapt our clinical recommendations and prescribing practices. Meanwhile, our hospital pharmacists and community pharmacists are working with local providers to keep them informed of alternative agents or strengths that can be prescribed if needed.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s: We currently have supply, but we are closely monitoring the situation.

Moffitt Cancer Center: Moffitt does not use much amoxicillin inpatient, nor do we treat pediatrics, who are the bulk of the patient population being treated with amoxicillin. Our availability to order this drug has been restricted to one bottle a week, but we have minimal concern about this impacting our patients who are admitted to Moffitt.

Baycare: We’re aware of the FDA’s recent report about a current shortage of the oral solution of amoxicillin, an antibiotic prescribed for bacterial infections. At this time, BayCare is seeing a limited impact. While there may be a limited supply of amoxicillin in some retail pharmacies, there are other alternative oral antibiotics to consider for patients if amoxicillin becomes unavailable.

The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System & James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital: Our pharmacy service has processes in place to mitigate the impact of national drug shortages. If necessary, the pharmacy service in collaboration with the providers, will provide a therapeutic substitution of the medication to meet the medical needs of our patients.

HCA Largo: They are not experiencing an issue at HCA Florida Largo Hospital with prescription drug shortages.

ABC Action News also reached out to USF’s Taneja College of Pharmacy. Dr. Kevin Sneed tells us his college is dedicated to moving the production of more medications back into the United States. Sneed says many of the name-brand and generic drugs we use are produced in other parts of the world.

“So, if there are any manufacturing delays, supply chain delays, any ingredient delays, it backs up and you wake up one day and you have massive medication shortages that we are experiencing right now across the country. Academic centers like ours here are training and teaching people to go in and create the brand-new manufacturing facilities of tomorrow and I don’t think it will take as long as people might think,” Dr. Sneed added.