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Prescription drug shortages affecting local pharmacies

(Photo Illustration by Tanya Moutzalias)

Local pharmacies in Mount Pleasant are feeling the pinch from prescription drug shortages affecting pharmacies and the patients that depend on them.

The shortages are not limited to any particular area and are hitting all different parts of the country.

Two local pharmacies, Cardinal Pharmacy, 2410 S. Leaton Rd., and Mission Pharmacy, 926 S. Mission St., are both facing shortages.

“You just don’t know anymore,” said Chris Tuller, a pharmacist at Cardinal Pharmacy. “I don’t know if it’s regulations or decreased manufacturing or what, but it’s tough now.”

Prescription drug shortages have been a national issue for the past few years, and things have been getting worse. According to a report by the Food and Drug Administration, the shortages are being caused by complex legal, economic and regulatory reasons. As generic drug companies consolidate, leading to less production, fewer drugs are being distributed to pharmacies across the country.

The FDA also reported the number of drugs in short supply has tripled since 2005. The most critical shortages involve medication to treat cancer, for nutrition and to treat electrolyte imbalances.

Another major shortage is medications for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

“A big shortage we’re having is with Ritalin and Adderall,” said Sam Nunn, a pharmacist at Mission Pharmacy. “It’s tough when you get a shortage and customers can’t depend on what they’ve been using.”

The shortages cause pharmacists to change their approach to buying pharmaceutical drugs.

“People usually let you know ahead of time if there’s a shortage, and sometimes you buy a few extra bottles if you believe that’s going to happen,” Nunn said.

For thousands of patients, this means resorting to unconventional and more dangerous means of getting generic drugs online. Many of the replacement drugs patients buy online are unregulated and are sold without a doctor’s prescription.

Nunn said he is hopeful the worst of the drug shortages have past, but many experts believe things are going to get worse before they get better.

In an attempt to ease the crisis, President Barack Obama issued an executive order in October asking drug manufacturers to do more to report shortages to the FDA. He also announced plans to expand the FDA’s staff that investigates drug shortages.

In December, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, a trade group that represents the generics industry, laid out multiple solutions to the crisis. One involved creating a team within the FDA to directly respond to shortages.

5 Comments

  1. Great story – but missing key ingredient — and that’s how compounding pharmacies are coming to the rescue during this shortage and helping hospitals and institutions and their patients with custom-made medications per the physician’s prescription.  Learn more at the International Academy of Compoundingn Pharmacists’ website, www.iacprx.org.  There are several compounding pharmacies in Michigan, to find one in your area – call toll free at 800/927-4227 or go our website and access our Pharmacist Locator Service. 

  2. todd cruise says:

    This “shortage” is grade A drug company BS.  I’ve been taking ADD meds for 20 years and I have never seen this. What they’ve done is manipulated the law to create an artificial shortage of Generic ADD drugs so they can line their pockets with brand name profits. What should happen is our (useless) congress should pass a law that says “If the generic is not available the the brand name has to be sold at the generics price.” See how long this ‘shortage’ lasts after that happens. But they would never do it because the drug companies line their political (and likely private) pocketbooks. Corruption at its finest.  I think America is the only nation that you can get this drug prescribed., I was told about another product called AddieUP thats for sale in the US— not as strong but works well with ADD etc., and needs no script or pharmacy to order.

  3. Just buy your drugs from Canada. It’s been shown that they meet the same standards, if not higher than our own country. They’re also extremely inexpensive even for foreigners purchasing them.

  4. This is unfortunate that the cancer medications are in shortage and the legal heroin type drugs such as Oxycodone is EVERYWHERE… Even sadder is that Oxycodone is killing people and the Cancer drugs are saving lives.

  5. We definitely need more brand name prescription drugs. (Pfizer thinks so too)

    But seriously, If this town ran out of speed – the entire thing would collapse.  

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