The title only tells half the story, but it’s the important half for those who may not continue to read the full article. We are not at crisis levels- yet. Can crisis levels be avoided? Hopefully.
LNN previously reported on the shortage of amoxicillin which is still out, even as we hit the high cough and cold season. The story took another challenging turn though. LNN spoke with Yitzi, a manager of one of Lakewoood’s busiest pharmacies to get insight into what’s happening.
When doctors realized patients were not able to get amoxicillin, they did the next logical thing and switched to other general antibiotics such as Keflex and Ceftin. Normally those are great substitutes. The problem is that the market inventory was not able to meet the demands and now those two are also in shorter supply. “We are taking in stock now, to be able to support the anticipated demand,” Yitzi advised.
But in today’s pharmaceutical environment, even finding that stock is presenting a challenge. Even with multiple new vendors, the orders are often short-shipped as suppliers ration their inventory to supply as many customers as possible. The amounts they are sending are not adequate for real world demands.
What happens if pharmacies cannot get these medications?
Thankfully, measures are in place to weather the storm, at least for a while. If the pharmacies get to a point where they can not serve customers because the prescription is completely unavailable, they can contact the state, which has reserve supplies. How much or how long those supplies will last is anyone’s guess, because it depends on the demand- which is hard to predict.
When will the drug shortage end?
Once again, answers are elusive, but we are more than likely in for a long haul. Manufacturers have not even given production dates for amoxicillin. Even when a production date is set, how much they will produce and how fast it will hit the market is a blind guess. It could be 12 weeks, could be shorter or longer. Even when it does return to the market, the question of how pricing will be affected remains. Supply and demand rules the market, and pharmacies are at the mercy of wholesalers. Their suppliers are going to dictate the pricing. Even once the product is available, insurance coverage may change with the new pricing. One this is certain, as Yitzi explains, “This is no longer a 1+1=2 world. Things don’t need to make sense. No one is even trying to give us answers anymore. It is what it is.”