Influenza and RSV increase the demand for antibiotics and antiviral drugs

Influenza and RSV increase the demand for antibiotics and antiviral drugs

Although the shortage of amoxicillin, especially its liquid and chewable forms, has proven frustrating for pharmacists, doctors and parents whose children have grown accustomed to the gummy and strawberry-flavored versions of the drug, experts say there’s no reason to panic: Stocks of effective alternatives such as cephalexin and clindamycin remain abundant, according to the FDA

But the process of searching for an appropriate alternative delays care and can be frustrating. “Taking care of a sick child is stressful anyway, and now on top of that you have to find a prescription. But there are age- and indication-appropriate alternatives available,” said Dr. Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

While hundreds of drugs, including chemotherapy and anesthetics, have been in short supply for years, the current shortage of amoxicillin and antiviral drugs is unusual, Dr. Ganio said. He attributed the rise in demand to an early rise in respiratory illnesses this year.

“These are not typical drug shortages, which are related to production or supply chain disruptions,” he said. While most drugmakers prepare for seasonal variations, he said: “We don’t use a lot of Tamiflu in the Northern Hemisphere in the summer and manufacturers plan accordingly. This happened earlier than expected.”

The FDA, which monitors drug shortages at your website, said there is no national shortage of Tamiflu, but that some regions of the country are experiencing temporary shortages. There are many alternatives to Tamiflu that can prevent the flu and reduce the severity and duration of the illness, but many doctors are not familiar with these options, experts say.

The shortages highlight the fragility of the nation’s drug supply chain, especially for cheap generics like amoxicillin that are made by only a few companies. Experts say the low prices of such drugs discourage investment in sophisticated quality management systems, which can improve manufacturers’ agility in the event of shortages and allow them to ramp up production more quickly.

One producer, Sandoz, said it was ramping up production to meet increased demand and hoped to double its output in the coming months. “We are facing the challenges of how to respond to this sudden surge in demand now that flu season is in full swing,” the company said in a statement.

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