When you’re not feeling well, the last thing you want to hear is that the drug your doctor has prescribed isn’t available at your local pharmacy. Unfortunately, that’s been the case for more and more people lately, as certain medications are in short supply across the country.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a database to track drug shortages, and they recently added a very common medication to the list—one that could be alarming to those who rely on it to quickly treat illness. And while pharmacists say there’s no need to panic, knowing that you could run into trouble when filling this particular prescription may prevent a rude surprise at the pharmacy counter.
Read on to find out which popular drug is new to the FDA shortage list, and what to do if you need it.
Supply chain issues have been impacting the availability of certain drugs.
COVID disrupted our lives in countless ways. Many of those have been resolved, but others are ongoing. Trouble with the supply chain is a problem that’s still lingering, and medications like Adderall and Ozempic (a diabetes drug that’s become popular as a weight loss aid) are just two of the medications people have had trouble getting their hands on lately.
What’s behind these medication shortages? The FDA lists various reasons, including manufacturing delays, quality issues, and discontinuations. Sometimes, they say, the problem is as simple as the wrong expiration date being printed on packaging, leading to a recall. Other times, more dangerous issues are at play, such as a lack of sterility, or possible foreign matter getting into the medication (what they call “particulate in product”).
A surge in demand may be behind this particular problem.
In this case, the problem seems to be linked to an ongoing surge in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, which is causing concern across the country, per The New York Times. The medication used to treat this illness is in high demand, and pharmacies may be having trouble keeping up, according to U.S. News&World Report.
While you may have heard of RSV as something that primarily affects infants and children, adults can get the virus as well. “In adults and children, R.S.V. typically causes mild symptoms like a cough, runny nose and fever,” says The New York Times, explaining that premature babies, infants under six months old, and those with chronic lung or congenital heart disease are at highest risk of severe outcomes from RSV.
The FDA lists this medication as “currently in shortage.”
Doctors typically prescribe amoxicillin to treat RSV, and it’s this medication that the FDA says may be facing supply problems. Amoxicillin oral solution, specifically, has just been added to their shortage list. This prescription, usually given to children, may be harder to find in the strength prescribed, Erin Fox, PharmD, senior pharmacy director at University of Utah Health, told CNN.
“I think it’s going to be challenging for doctors and prescribers to give their patients a prescription that they’ll then be able to get filled, because pharmacies are going to have a variety of different strengths in stock, and you hate to have that delay of the back and forth, especially for an antibiotic they usually want to get started pretty quick,” Fox explained. “So I think it’s going to be a frustrating shortage.”
For more health news sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Experts say there’s no reason to panic.
If you, or your child, is prescribed amoxicillin oral solution, don’t worry: Fox says you’ll still be able to get the medication one way or another. “My first advice would be, don’t panic,” she told CNN. “There is still some amoxicillin. It just might need a quick change of prescription.” She listed amoxicillin-clavulante and cefuroxime as alternatives that are especially good for children.
In another piece of potentially reassuring news, Walgreens told CNN they are not experiencing any supply issues with amoxicillin—although CVS and Walmart did not comment on whether they’re seeing any shortages of the drug. Customers at certain CVS locations have been reporting amoxicillin shortages, and the company previously acknowledged the drug was in short supply as some pharmacies.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you’re taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.