Some parents concerned over empty drug store shelves, shortage of popular antibiotic

Across the country, parents are searching for solutions as demand for pediatric medications surges while over-the-counter medications, and a popularly prescribed antibiotic, are in reported short supply.

Aselyn Schott, a mother from Colorado, said her 5-year-old daughter was prescribed amoxicillin for an ear infection. She said her doctor warned her it would be difficult to find.

“I was just running down the line, ‘Nope, we don’t have it. Nope, we don’t have it,'” Schott told “Good Morning America.” “And nobody was really giving me a suggestion as to what to do so I just kept calling and calling.”

PHOTO: Aselyn Schott speaks to "Good Morning America" about her family's experience with a prescription medication shortage.

Aselyn Schott speaks to “Good Morning America” about her family’s experience with a prescription medication shortage.

ABC News

Oral amoxicillin is the most common antibiotic prescribed in primary care practices and it’s used to treat some bacterial infections in children, such as bacterial ear and lung infections, according to the National Library of Medicine. It does not treat infections due to viruses.

The Food and Drug Administration added amoxicillin, specifically amoxicillin oral powder, to the drug shortage list on Oct. 28, 2022. There is currently no estimate of when supply of the drug will increase.

The common antibiotic Amoxicillin Trihydrate in the pharmacy at the Reading Hospital.

Susan L. Angstadt/Reading Eagle Vi/MediaNews Group via Getty Images

The FDA’s most recent update on flu antivirals says there isn’t an official shortage of Tamiflu, although “we are aware that there may be localized shortages where demand is especially high.”

In a statement to ABC News, Walgreens said “although demand for pediatric and adult OTC medications have increased, Walgreens is prepared and able to continue meeting the needs of our customers and patients. We are working with our diverse set of suppliers and distributors to ensure our patients have the products they need most.”

CVS said, “We’re currently seeing increased demand for cold, flu and pain relief products. We’re committed to meeting our customers’ needs and are working with our suppliers to ensure continued access to these items. In the event a local store experiences a temporary product shortage, our teams have a process in place to replenish supply.”

Erin Fox, the senior pharmacy director at the University of Utah Health, said very few over-the-counter drugs are truly in shortage, but some drugs many not be in the right place at the right time. She said if you are concerned about getting a prescription medication, ask your doctor for a written prescription instead of submitting it electronically or ask for a different formula or dosage that is less in demand.

“There are substitutes, there are chewable amoxicillin tablets that some children can use. There are also different strengths of liquid,” Fox said to ABC News. “Maybe just go right back to the prescriber and say, ‘Hey, I’m striking out, is there another strength? Or even is there another medicine?'”

For Schott, she said she tried 18 pharmacies before finding one pharmacy that could fill the prescription for her daughter.

“I was relieved just to hear those words, ‘We have it in stock,’ but that pharmacy was about 45 minutes away from me, so I was really nervous because they couldn’t hold it for me,” said Schott. “I was nervous that it was going to run out by the time that I even got there.

“Once I got there and had it in hand. It was just like a big sigh of relief and I actually gave her a dose of medicine right in the car,” she said.

What can worried parents do?

  • Visit different pharmacies and reputable medication retailers: Medications could be found by visiting different pharmacies and reputable medication retailers, by ordering online or in-person.
  • Check back later: Stores can likely resolve the empty shelf problem once they place new orders.
  • Generic alternatives: For over-the-counter drugs, your favorite brand name may not be available, but a generic is a safe alternative (i.e., If the Tylenol brand is not available, use generic acetaminophen).