Children’s earache, strep throat treatment amoxicillin in short supply

As the calendar changes to fall and eventually winter, children will start feeling under the weather. But one common treatment for many childhood illnesses is in short supply once again.

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Several media outlets are reporting that there will not be enough amoxicillin to go around for the second year in a row.

The shortage started in October 2022, according to Forbes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s drug shortage database shows no indication of when supplies of the liquid form of the medication will be up to the needed levels, CNN reported.

The FDA said that amoxicillin pills or capsules are available, but young children who are suffering from strep throat, chest infections, sinus infections or earaches cannot swallow pills, and so are prescribed amoxicillin liquids.

The medication is also prescribed for bacterial infections like pneumonia and dental abscesses, Forbes reported.

Several manufacturers of the powder that is used to make the liquid version of amoxicillin haven’t said why there’s a supply issue, but they are only distributing it on allocation, meaning that it can be ordered in limited quantities.

Teva Pharmaceuticals said the issue was caused by an increase in demand, not manufacturing delays or a shortage of materials, CNN reported.

Sandoz said that the price of the medications, which retails for about $10 a bottle, are forcing drug companies from the market.

Other companies won’t say why they’re experiencing shortages.

When a patient needs the medication but it’s not available at their normal pharmacy, parents may have to try other locations or have their child’s prescription switched to another antibiotic. But another medication may not be ideal. Researchers said the substitutions may result in stronger side effects and, if there is an uptick in illnesses requiring substitutions, the backup treatments may also become in short supply, CNN reported.

“What worries us is sort of the generalizability of this issue,” Dr. Rohan Khazanchi, a pediatrician and medical resident at Brigham & Woman’s Hospital, told CNN. “It’s not about the amoxicillin; it’s about the fact that we have drug shortages for reasonably essential medications that are generic and should be widely available.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that amoxicillin was prescribed 42.9 million times in 2021 out of the 211.1 million antibiotics prescribed overall, according to Forbes.

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