GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — During a time of year when children are increasingly getting sick, a national drug shortage is impacting how easy it is to treat those illnesses.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website shows there is an acute shortage of amoxicillin oral antibiotic powder for suspension. This is the powder used to make the liquid form of the drug, which pediatricians rely on for their young patients.
For most of the drug manufacturers, the FDA lists an increased demand as the reason for the shortage, which Dr. Jeremy Veenema of Alger Pediatrics in Grand Rapids can attest to.
“There is no shortage of illnesses we are seeing, so oftentimes we have to get creative with calling around to different pharmacies,” he said. “It’s a daily thing for our nursing staff and for us physicians.”
Veenema said the most important thing for parents is to talk with their child’s primary care provider before making any decisions.
“Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says for kids who are older than 2 for an ear infection, if it is mild, early on, we can watch and wait. It is really important for us to have that conversation with families, is this antibiotic necessary,” he said.
He also said it is important during a shortage to work with families and pharmacies to find a different strength or alternate drugs. However, he did say he does not think families should fret.
“I don’t want this to keep you up at night. There is definitely an increase in demand, but that is going to get better over time,” he added.
Families with children born during the pandemic may also be dealing with illness after illness, for the first time, if their children were not exposed to many germs early on.
“Especially COVID babies, parents who have not had a sick kid before, it’s really terrifying. But the number one thing we noticed is health care providers outside the medical home are prescribing antibiotics at the first sign of being sick,” said Veenema.
He said families should always consult with the doctors who know their children best and have treated them before to determine the next step.
News 8 called several pharmacies to see if they had the liquid form of amoxicillin available this week, and found shortages at Walgreens, CVS and Family Fare.
A representative for CVS wrote, “there’s an industry-wide supplier shortage of certain doses of Amoxicillin and we’re working with manufacturers to replenish supply as quickly as possible. In the event an individual CVS Pharmacy store is temporarily out-of-stock, our pharmacy teams assist patients in locating the product at other nearby locations and work with prescribers to determine potential alternatives.”
Fraser Engerman, the senior director of external relations for Walgreens, wrote, “We can’t address supply at local locations, and 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.”
SpartanNash operates one of the only 24-hour pharmacies in Grand Rapids, the Family Fare pharmacy at Metro Health in Wyoming.
Amy Ellis, the director of clinical care and pharmacy operations for SpartanNash, wrote, “With increasing illness circulating due to flu/cough and cold season, our first priority is getting our patients the medication they need. If an occasion arises where a prescription cannot be filled due to a marketplace shortage, our pharmacy team will work with patients and prescribers to find in-stock treatments or look for alternate solutions so patients can receive treatment. Sometimes this could be the prescriber changing the medication ordered or finding the product elsewhere.”