Pharmacists Rise to the Challenge During Drug Shortages

January 3, 2023by Todd Eury

As of December 5th, 2022, the FDA maintains a list of 123 drugs in short supply. In 2010, the FDA reported 178 drug shortages. Back then, shortages were reported in cancer drugs, anesthetics used in surgery, and in a large number of medicines that are given intravenously. The latest list of shortages can be found here: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/drugshortages/default.cfm 

Based on these shortages, Pharmacists have another opportunity to leverage their skills and knowledge and compound needed medications like children’s pain and fever medications. A story from Yahoo, titled: Big year’ for pharmacists with new prescriptive powers, drug shortages: association — referenced pharmacists in Alberta were compounding alternative remedies, mixing the same active ingredients together that are sold in manufactured products.  The nationwide shortage of basic antibiotics and critical medications that treat chronic conditions and bacterial infections has become the latest issue to hit the medical world. Consequently, it is forcing many doctors to rely on alternative medicines to treat patients. Dr. Robert Glatter told FOX Business that the drug shortage problem rippling throughout the U.S. could last for at least another year, if not longer. (https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/drug-shortage-swells-national-emergency-forcing-doctors-find-new-ways-treat-patients)

There are several reasons why drug shortages can occur. Some of the most common causes include:

  1. Manufacturing problems: Drug shortages can be caused by problems at the facility that manufactures the drug. These issues can range from manufacturing delays and quality control problems to recalls and regulatory issues.
  2. Raw material shortages: Many drugs are made using a variety of raw materials, and shortages of these materials can lead to drug shortages.
  3. Increased demand: Sometimes, a sudden increase in the demand for a particular drug can lead to a shortage if the manufacturer is unable to increase production quickly enough to meet the demand.
  4. Limited production: Some drugs are only produced by a few manufacturers, and if one of these manufacturers experiences problems, it can lead to a shortage of the drug.
  5. Supply chain disruptions: Disruptions in the supply chain, such as transportation delays or problems with distribution, can also lead to drug shortages.

The national drug shortage highlights U.S. vulnerabilities, yet again, when it comes to its ability to supply some of the most basic health care products — even children’s Motrin. Antibiotics, antivirals and pediatric cold and flu medications are hard to find across the country as families deal with back-to-back illnesses spurring secondary effects like childhood ear infections and pneumonia. The problem started with manufacturers of antibiotics — companies like Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Teva and Sandoz — reporting shortages due to not anticipating the early surge of respiratory diseases and it escalated from there according to the Axios report titled: Antibiotic, drug shortages highlight America’s supply chain problems — again 

To curb the ongoing problem, compounding pharmacies like Pharmacy Solutions is quite literally mixing things up. They take drugs in pill form, break them down and create a liquid medication -something that’s crucial for many children who are not old enough to take pills.

“We help customers that are little babies all the way up to 100 years old, so we can help with drug shortages,” Jennifer Rickner, a pharmacist with Pharmacy Solutions said.

“It hits pretty close to home for all of us; we all have kiddos so its a stressful time for any parent that’s why we want to step in,” Rickner said.

Pharmacy Solutions in Lincoln Nebraska is going above and beyond to care for their community.