Caution, communication urged amid drug shortages

Caution, communication urged amid drug shortages
Empty pill bottles. Experts warn that drug shortages, combined with a spike in COVID-19, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus infections, have aggravated an already difficult situation. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Drug shortages combined with an increase in COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus infections have aggravated an already challenging situation on the North Shore and beyond, experts say.

“There’s been a surge in illnesses and there have still been supply issues,” Dr. Jack Kann, director of pharmacy at South Shore University Hospital, said. “So the combination of increased demand and decreased/the same supply just creates some issues. And people are also trying to stock up, which just creates more of a supply issue.”

Drug shortages can develop for a variety of causes, including manufacturing and quality issues, delays and discontinuations. The Food and Drug Administration receives shortage information from manufacturers and works with them to minimize or mitigate their impact.

Currently, some prescriptions, including the antibiotic amoxicillin, the ADHD medicine Adderall and other pediatric medications, are in short supply.

Kann said Northwell Health monitors drug shortages daily and holds weekly calls about the issue.

“We try and assure that we maintain supplies,” he said. “We will share if need be to keep supplies consistent — that we can keep treating patients.”

The seven-day average of positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 persons on Long Island has declined from a high of 45 on Dec. 23, 2022. Yet, it has still risen from 24 to 36.6 cases — a 52.5% increase — from Sept. 1, 2022, to Jan. 1, per state data.

The state’s positive flu cases follow a similar pattern. They also remain higher than pre-triple epidemic levels but are not peaking as they were in early December.

Kann advised against panicking amid these numbers. He said if a medication, such as Children’s Tylenol, is unavailable, one should consult with their pharmacists and physicians.

“If the pharmacy doesn’t have something, they can most likely clue them in as to where to go or how to get it,” said Kann. “It’s a matter of just keeping in regular contact as need be to see where they need to go to get the products.”

He said that if someone is prescribed a medication, they should take it as told. He also advised courtesy of others, including wearing face coverings where one cannot safely distance themselves.

“If I had a child, I would consider having a bottle of Motrin and a bottle of Tylenol in the house,” said Kann. “But it’s not necessary to have four bottles of each.”

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