At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, product shortages were the top conversation. Everyday necessities like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and paper towels became near impossible to find at your local supermarket or convenience store, leading to pandemonium with brick-and-mortar shoppers and inflated online price tags. It quickly became apparent that, as manufacturers of everyday necessities struggled to balance supply and demand, pharmacies would experience a shortage of their own.
The COVID-19 pandemic has produced an unprecedented shortage for drug manufacturers, causing supply chain issues to over 150 medications and leaving pharmacies with a significant deficiency for patients. The United States pharmaceutical industry relies on FDA approved manufacturers to provide medications in a timely manner. However, due to the pandemic, manufacturers have either been closed temporarily or experienced severely reduced staffing, resulting in major production and shipping delays, as well as manufacturer backorder.
The kickoff to drug manufacturer shortages can likely be traced back to COVID-19 treatment options, such as Hydroxychloroquine, dexamethasone, anti-viral medications, etc. These medications were being used daily to treat other more common lifelong disease states, thus leaving patients and pharmacies without any medication. With this, manufacturer backorders slowly picked up, leaving pharmacies with a crippling inventory.
Since April 2020, the U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several newsletters explaining that drug manufacturer shortages and delays have an unexpected return date and have asked manufacturers to evaluate their entire supply chain for impacted areas.
As the pandemic continues, manufacturers have been severely scrutinized by the FDA for the extreme delays and shortages. This has forced manufacturers to look for alternative methods of producing medications, like outsourcing. Although these measures are legal, it is something to pay attention to when taking medications as every manufacturer uses different fillers and inactive ingredients within their medication.
Shortages continue for medications linked to the treatment of COVID-19. However, unrelated medications are slowly being produced in a more efficient manner. Big manufacturing companies like Pfizer, Mallinckrodt, and Camber have assured the public that they are working on making sure production needs are being met as they continue to fight the daily battle of COVID-19 restrictions on staffing.
If your medication is on a backorder or on a shortage, it is important to work with your pharmacist and prescriber to find an available alternative. It is not recommended to either stop therapy or change therapy without consulting a health care provider first. IWP Pharmacists are always available to our patients to consult on your medication routine. Connect with our Pharmacy team at any time through our Contact Us page or by calling 888-321-7945.