Prescription drug shortages affecting local pharmacies


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.


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