The Amoxicillin shortage: What you should know

The Amoxicillin shortage: What you should know
Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 6:06 PM EDT
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SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Ear infections and strep throat.

Both are common childhood illnesses, for which the go-to prescription is in short supply, according to a recent nationwide alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The warning specifically involves the powder, which pharmacists use to mix liquid Amoxicillin for childhood infections.

It was in stock Friday at Thomas Health in South Charleston.

That was not the case a week and a half ago. That’s when a pharmacy at the hospital was without it for two to three days, said Scott Brown, outpatient pharmacy director for Thomas Health.

Despite shortage there and elsewhere, Brown said there is no reason to panic. He offered this advice for parents who find themselves at a pharmacy with no Amoxicillin.

“The pharmacist should be able to contact the prescriber almost immediately and suggest an alternative product,” he said. “There are numerous alternative products available that are not in short supply that almost every pharmacy carries that will still treat the ear infection, the sore throat, the sinus infection, etc.”

The idea of a prescription drug shortage is relatively new for Brown -- a pharmacist for nearly 30 years. During the last decade or so, he recalled having had more and more difficulty keeping prescription drugs in stock.

And it’s an ever-changing list.

“It’s kind of hit and miss,” he said. “It’s not a steady stream of shortages. Some things will be backordered for a week. Then they show up the next day. Or they may be backordered for several months with no release date in sight. It’s kind of a mixed bag.”

Brown believes the Amoxicillin shortage will work itself out, but another supply issue will take its place.

“It keeps us on our toes,” Brown said. “We have to be very diligent about what we buy and how we buy it. We have to stay on the lookout and stay very vigilant, as well as diligent for other alternative sources that we can purchase from.”

All of that to make sure patients get the help they need.

While there has been an uptick in RSV and flu, Brown and other pharmacists said that has no impact on the supply of Amoxicillin. It’s because that specific drug is used to treat bacterial infections; RSV and flu are viruses.