Drug shortages become harmful; Medical care impacted

Kensington Boyanich, Business Manager

    According to the FDA, 191 drugs are in shortage or are in the process of being restored in the market, including Adderall, anesthetics, cancer treatments, and many other pharmaceuticals.     

     “A drug product shortage is defined as a supply issue that affects how the pharmacy prepares or dispenses a drug product or influences patient care when prescribers must use an alternate agent,” states ASHP. “Several hundred drugs sold in the U.S. have been in short supply in every quarter of the past five years.”  

     “Drugs in short supply often include sterile injectables and potentially life-saving oncology (cancer) treatments,” states drugs.com. The website continues, “Besides the lack of effective drug treatment, many other areas of medical care can be impacted, including medical procedure delays, treatment protocol delays, rates of medication errors, patient health outcomes, and cost.” 

     42% of drug shortages occur because of an unknown reason, according to The University of Utah Drug Information Service. The other two leading causes include supply/demand and manufacturing issues. 

     “This is an issue that we have been managing in America’s healthcare system since 2011. There are a ton of medications that health providers are always watching intensely,” states Sterling Elliott, clinical pharmacist and assistant professor of orthopedics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. 

     The FDA states that in order for a drug not to be considered in shortage anymore, they often “need new production lines approved or need new raw material sources approved to help increase supplies.”

     In December of 2022, a large majority of the drug shortages included amoxicillin and children’s Tylenol. “Drug shortages have been plaguing this country for years across the board,” Elliot comments. “Now it really hits home because it’s little kids being affected in aisles of grocery stores and pharmacies.”

     Senior Tatiana Gonzalez works at Walgreens and has first-hand experience with this issue. “I haven’t noticed any shortage of controlled substances but we are consistently always out of children’s medicine.”

     “One time a guy came in at around 9:30 because his daughter was running a fever and we didn’t have any children’s ibuprofen for him so I had to send him to another store,” Gonzalez continues.

     Dr. Joseph Varon, the Chief of COVID-19 at United Memorial Medical Center, talks about what to do when you can’t find a medication. “You can enhance your immune system with vitamin D, zinc, and melatonin. Simple things you can find in most pharmacies.”