News Release

Amoxicillin Shortages


In a recent opinion piece for STAT, pediatrician Nishant Pandya detailed how shortages of critical medicines––including amoxicillin, the generic antibiotic––harmed pediatric patients, their families and their providers during last winter’s “tripledemic,” or the confluence of flu, Covid-19, and RSV that overwhelmed hospitals and urgent care clinics. 

    Pandya is a pediatrician in New Haven, Conn. 

Pandya told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “I was inspired to write this article because of the tripledemic––the three viruses that spiked last year––which put a lot of strain on the healthcare system.” It was a stressful time for families as well as providers. “This was a whole other unexpected variable that was incredibly stressful. We couldn’t rely on frequently-used medications or trust that we could prescribe this medication and the patient could get it. I was confused and curious why a medicine so common and frequently used could be in shortage. Why wasn’t our system prepared to handle a bit of strain?”

The shortage harmed both families and children, Pandya said, “and made us as providers use finite hours that we could have used to be with patients calling pharmacies. The pharmacies were overwhelmed. Pharmacies often didn’t know where stocks were. They can’t compare stocks between pharmacies.”

Pandya has two recommendations going forward. First, the U.S. has “only one manufacturer that produces amoxicillin. The majority of producers are international; different components are sourced from different areas. Increasing production [currently] requires changes in multiple locations, leading to delays.” Second, Pandya urges pharmacies to “create international [modes of] communication. At the moment, there is no centralized form of communication and no way to organize information” about medication stocks. 

Pandya notes that like many generic medicines, amoxicillin is produced in response to consumer demand. “Because it’s generic, it’s not profitable [for pharmaceutical companies]. Whenever there’s an unexpected spike in demand, we’re not ready to respond to it. We need to be able to respond to acute changes in health; we can’t just use predictions. It’s disappointing to learn that the heart of this challenge is due to critical medication not being profitable.”

The term “shortages” hides the reality of the problem, Pandya said. “There are human costs to these decisions that are made to maximize profit. There’s a harsh human cost, and people don’t see it unless you’re unfortunately sick or work in the healthcare industry.”