Shortage of amoxicillin antibiotics worries parents

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Last week, when Kate Brown, 43, mum-of-three, learned that her local Walgreens and nearby pharmacies were run out of liquid amoxicillin – it was hard to swallow. Lydia, her 10-year-old daughter, and Geneviève, 2, both suffered from painful ear infections. Brown not only had to care for two sick children — and the tears and sleepless nights that come with labor — she had to deal with the fact that the necessary antibiotics weren’t available.

“Everyone and their brother needs antibiotics right now,” she told the Post. And “the pharmacist was like, ‘Look, I’ll tell you right now, nobody has amoxicillin.’ ”

Since last spring, American parents have had to facing a shortage of formula which has left thousands of people struggling to feed their infants and continues to persist despite Abbott’s Michigan factory, reopening in July. Now, just in time for the start of cold and flu season, moms and dads are facing shortages of another child-rearing essential: amoxicillin. The commonly prescribed antibiotic, often used to treat ear infections and bronchitis, has been added to the Food and drug administrationThe October 28 list of drug shortages. The shortage — which an FDA spokesperson said was due to manufacturing, quality issues, delays and disruptions — specifically affects “amoxillicin oral powder,” which pharmacists use to mix a liquid version of the medication that is easy to administer to young children.

Kate Brown, a mother of three, struggled to get liquid amoxicillin for her daughters due to shortages. Here she is pictured with her 2-year-old daughter Genevieve, who has a double ear infection and was eventually prescribed an amoxicillin-adjacent drug called cefdinir.
Courtesy of Kate Brown

“[My daughter] can’t swallow pills, she only tolerates liquid amoxicillin,” Brown, who lives in Detroit, told The Post. “We had to call the doctor to get a replacement.”

Lydia was eventually prescribed an amoxicillin-adjacent drug called cefdinir, but Brown was initially hesitant to give it to her. She recently took it herself when she was sick and had heart palpitations, but had no choice but to give it to her daughter.

After multiple visits to the doctor and to the emergency room, little Geneviève was finally prescribed liquid augmentin, a drug that combines amoxicillin and clavulanic acid. Brown was hesitant again.

Amoxicillin antibiotic drug.
Amoxicillin, the commonly prescribed antibiotic often used to treat ear infections and bronchitis, was added to the Food and Drug Administration’s drug shortage list on October 28.
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

“She’s never had one before. Obviously when you add a secondary medication there’s probably more chance of side effects, but ER said they couldn’t get liquid amoxicillin,” Brown said. “It’s a little weird.”

The doctors are just as exasperated as the parents. Deborah Greenhouse, a pediatrician and mom from Columbia, South Carolina, is frustrated with the difficulties she faces when treating her patients due to shortages of various popular essential medicines.

“Today: I tried to prescribe amoxicillin for an ear infection: the pharmacy didn’t have any. I tried prescribing Tamiflu for the flu. The pharmacy didn’t have any. I tried prescribing adderall for ADHD,” Greenhouse recently tweeted. “The pharmacy didn’t have any. If you don’t mind, it should’

Greenhouse told the Post that she and her colleagues have started giving patients electronic and paper prescriptions, so they can more easily visit multiple pharmacies for liquid amoxicillin or other medications.

“We put the work in the hands of the family rather than coming back to us.
Our phones are literally ringing non-stop. Our office staff cannot keep up,” she said. “There are so many sick children there that there is no way to handle it.”

The amoxicillin shortage comes as children’s hospitals are inundated with respiratory syncytial virus cases. While amoxicillin is not used to treat RSVthe disease predisposes some young children to secondary bacterial infections, such as ear infections, which are usually treated with amoxicillin.

A doctor examines a child patient for an ear infection.
Bacterial infections such as ear infections are usually treated with amoxicillin.
Shutterstock
Deborah Greenhouse, a South Carolina-based pediatrician and mom, says there have been shortages of various popular essential medicines. “Our phones are literally ringing non-stop. Our office staff can’t keep up,” she told the Post.
NY Post photo composite

That’s enough to piss off parents across the country. Samantha, a mother of two from Westchester County who declined to give her last name, has been storing formula for months to feed her 5-month-old baby. Now she worries about what might happen if and when her children need amoxicillin this winter.

“As a parent, it’s really concerning that you can’t find the basic things you need for your kids,” she said. “And it’s even more stressful to have to compete with people who are looking for the same things.”

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