Everything from Tylenol to cancer treatments are in short supply.
EDMONDS, Wash. — There are currently approximately 125 medications or medical products in short supply, right now, across America, according to the FDA.
The situation is impacting people across the nation, and in some cases threatening them, with no cure in sight.
Teagan Miller, the daughter of a KING 5 employee, suffers from narcolepsy and recently had to wait more than a week for her Adderall refill.
“It’s a little bit of panic and frustration,” she said from her Kirkland office.
That’s because without her medication she could fall asleep at work or worse, behind the wheel.
Adderall is one of the scarcest medications in America right now, so Teagan is forced to ration.
“I have to decide do I save them and use them for work, or do I save them for an emergency when I need to be awake and I don’t have a refill yet?” She asked herself.
It’s not just Adderall that is in short supply.
Medications used to treat cancer are running low. The rise in RSV with children, along with a return of the flu have parents struggling to find Amoxicillin, Tamiflu and Albuterol. Anesthetics like Lidocaine are scarce. Ativan used to control seizures and anxiety is hard to come by. Even everyday, over-the-counter (OTC) treatments such as Tylenol are increasingly tough to find.
“It concerns me a lot,” said Steve Fijalka, chief pharmacy officer for University of Washington Medicine.
Medication shortages aren’t rare and have been happening for the past five years.
Fijalka believes the situation is getting more attention right now because so many children with RSV are involved.
There are many factors that contribute to the shortage.
“Sometimes it’s raw materials. Sometimes it’s a business decision. Some of these medications just aren’t worth it for certain companies to make anymore,” said Fijalka. “There are manufacturing issues. We don’t have that many manufacturing plants in the U.S.”
As for when pharmacy shelves will be full again, no one can say for sure.
“This is a challenging situation for providers and pharmacies across the nation and will not resolve until manufacturers are able to replenish supplies,” said Department of Health spokesman Frank Ameduri.
The owner of Paktia Pharmacy in Edmonds told KING 5 anyone getting a prescription should follow this piece of advice.
“Before you leave the doctor’s office, make sure you call the pharmacy and make sure the product is available,” says owner Rashid Jamali. “If it isn’t you can get help in finding a pharmacist who carries the medication.”
One more tip is to choose a small independent pharmacy. They often do business with a handful of suppliers as opposed to the big chains that may only have contracts with a few. Smaller pharmacies often have more time to reach out to other pharmacies or suppliers to find the drugs that are needed.
As for parents dealing with RSV or the flu, a Rite Aid spokes person said in an email, “If customers don’t see their preferred cold/flu treatment products on the shelf, they should speak with the pharmacist for recommendations on other OTC options that best suit their needs.”
Teagan Miller said the uncertainty of the situation is causing her stress.
“In a month I know I’ll be facing the same thing which makes it extra difficult and stressful to think about.”