TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — Shortages are impacting drugs used for bacterial infections in kids and drugs that help adults recover from the flu faster. The Amoxicillin shortage in particular is impacting children and what they’re prescribed.
“Amoxicillin is the first line for probably 75% of infant and childhood infections,” said Jacob Cox, a pharmacist at Mooney’s Pharmacy. “A lot of upper respiratory stuff is going around.”
Cox said there are more medication options for adults beyond amoxicillin.
According to Cox, they’re getting a limited supply of amoxicillin into their pharmacy. He said when they receive prescriptions for the drug from doctors, they work to find other options and even call on other pharmacies in the area.
“We’re trying to work together to make sure, especially with the kiddos, that they go ahead and start their antibiotic as soon as they can,” said Cox.
While there is a shortage, Cox said there is a purpose in limiting how much each pharmacy receives.
“The whole toilet paper thing, right? So everyone’s trying to get it,” said Cox. “All the pharmacies ordered a bunch, and then there’s not enough for certain pharmacies. So to make sure that doesn’t happen, they’ll only send you a few bottles a week to make sure that no one is hoarding any, which is frustrating if you have a patient, but it’s also a good thing because it’s protecting the supply chain.”
Cox said they’ve also run into some issues finding backup medications.
“If you can’t get that then you can go to Augmentin,” said Cox. “Then we’re actually having trouble getting in cefdinir, which is the backup for amoxicillin. So now some of the backups that we use, typically use, are going on backorder as well.”
Amoxicillin and other antibiotics won’t be prescribed for viral infections like the flu.
“If you have a bacterial infection, yes, they can help you,” said Claire deRoos, a Ballad Health Family Medicine Physician. “Most upper respiratory illnesses with a cough, or without a cough, most ear infections, even most throat infections are going to be viral.”
Tamiflu may be prescribed to help with flu symptoms, but pharmacists are seeing high demand for that drug as well.
“If it hits a whole school, all of a sudden I’ll get 8-10 prescriptions in one day for the same drug,” said Cox. “I only keep five on the shelf.”
Ballad Health reports the week of Dec. 4 they had more than 2,000 flu cases, with hospitalizations fluctuating from 84 to 117.
With flu cases on the rise and limited access to Tamiflu and other flu drugs, deRoos said prescriptions should be reserved for those most at risk.
“That’s going to be patients over 65 years old, pregnant women and children, really young children, especially ones who aren’t old enough to get vaccinated yet,” said deRoos.
According to a Ballad Health spokesperson, Tamiflu is available in their system, Amoxicillin is back-ordered and expected next week, but they are able to compound in their pharmacies, so patient care isn’t affected.