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Doctors say amoxicillin shortage is affecting pediatric patients

Doctors warn of amoxicillin shortage that could affect sick kids
Doctors warn of amoxicillin shortage that could affect sick kids 02:21

NEW YORK -- Supply shortages have been nothing new through the pandemic, and now, the Food and Drug Administration is warning the antibiotic amoxicillin is in short supply, specifically, doses commonly prescribed for children.

One Howard Beach mom couldn't believe how hard it was to get amoxicillin for her sick daughter.

"It's crazy. It shouldn't be this difficult," she said. 

Her 6-year-old was prescribed the antibiotic by her pediatrician.

"Her appointment was at 9:15 in the morning. I didn't get it 'til 5:45 at night," the mom said. "They send it to my original pharmacy that I usually use, and I call to see if it was ready ... and they told me they didn't have it, and it, they couldn't get it."

After calling multiple pharmacies, she finally got the prescription filled at Linden Park Pharmacy. Staff there told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis when they heard of a shortage, they pre-ordered a significant supply.

"There's absolutely a shortage happening right now, and we're seeing that shortage predominantly affecting the pediatric population," cardiovascular disease specialist Dr. Nidhi Kumar said.

The state isn't saying if there is officially a shortage, but according to the FDA's website, there is, and the reason is increased demand on four pharmaceutical companies which produce the antibiotic.

One of those companies, Hikma, told CBS2 in part, "We are continuing to deliver in full nationally and have adequate supplies to meet our agreed upon commitments with current customers." They added they are looking at ways to increase production to meet the increased demand.

Another company, Sandoz, told CBS2 they are seeing a significant increase in department resulting in "a supply situation" for some antibiotics, including amoxicillin.

"The combination of rapid succession of the pandemic impact and consequent demand swings, manufacturing capacity constraints, scarcity of raw materials, and the current energy crisis means we currently face a uniquely difficult situation. We are working with key stakeholders including governments to find ways to manage this critical situation," Sandoz said in part.

They added, "We remain confident in our ability to supply these critical medicines long term and are on track to strengthen the supply reliability of our antibiotics currently low in stock."

A representative from a pharmaceutical company shared with CBS2, during the pandemic, amoxicillin demand was lower than it had been previously and increasing demand can yield a short-term problem.

Kumar says it's not directly related to the RSV surge.

"Pediatricians do not use amoxicillin to treat RSV. However, that being said, it can be used to treat some of the secondary infections related to RSV. What the thought is is that this amoxicillin shortage is really stemming from a supply chain issue," she said.

CBS2 reached out to large pharmacies, including Walgreens. A spokesperson said, "Although demand for amoxicillin has increased, Walgreens is still able to meet patient needs at this time and will continue to work with our suppliers and distributors throughout the season to best serve our patients."

"Should parents be alarmed?" DeAngelis asked Kumar.

"We don't want families to be alarmed. If we look at the top three diseases that we use amoxicillin for, in the pediatric population, that is pneumonia, ear infections and strep throat. We have alternatives to treat all three of these illnesses," she said.

So, if you can't get amoxicillin, Kumar recommends asking your doctor for a different medication.

Also, focus on keeping kids healthy by washing hands, getting rest and eating well to prevent illness in the first place.

An FDA spokesperson said they work to help prevent drug shortages, adding, "The FDA is aware of some intermittent supply interruptions of amoxicillin products in the U.S, and is currently working with the approved manufacturers."

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