Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter Medicines in Short Supply, Pharmacist Says

An Altadena pharmacist said it has been like this since the coronavirus outbreak started.

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What to Know

  • A pharmacist in Southern California says both prescriptions and OTC medicines have been selling out
  • His deliveries have doubled
  • Ongoing drug shortages have contributed to the issue, a report indicated last year

A pharmacist in Southern California has been seeing both prescription and over the counter medications flying off the shelves, with little to no new supply coming in.

“We order every day and nothing is coming in,” pharmacist Michael Miller said, gesturing to his bare shelves at his Webster Community Pharmacy in Altadena. 

“Sometimes we can get some things,  sometimes we can't. For example this week we were trying to get some diabetic products and they were out of it.”

He said it has been like this since the coronavirus outbreak started.

We order every day and nothing is coming in.

pharmacist Michael Miller

“People are anxious and we are trying to fill their needs as far as getting their prescriptions for them as fast as possible,” he said. 

A check of the Food and Drug administration’s website to find many drugs are “currently in shortage.”

The FDA is now asking manufacturers to evaluate their entire supply chain – not just the finished products but also active ingredients for medicines -- that could be impacted by COVID-19. 

“I think there has always been some problems with coming and going but this seems to be a little bit more prevalent right now, but I believe that the supply chain will be able to eventually deliver the products that we need,” Miller said. 

Kids around the country are using chalk to spread positive messages on the sidewalk.

The “why“ behind ongoing drug shortages – detailed in this federal report last year -- includes a lack of incentives to produce less profitable drugs, and regulatory challenges that made it harder to recover from possible disruptions.

The report also notes that how often shortages happen, and their intensity or their impact on treatments, is not fully known or made available to the public. 

Miller says he is also seeing a shortage of people coming in to pick up their prescriptions. Usually he has 20-25 deliveries a day.

Now, he says that’s at 100.

Any kind of DayQuil, Nyquil, and Robitussin has also been cleaned out.

“My daughter is in the entertainment business and her whole company is shutting down. I have hired three of her employees to help us with deliveries along with our two regular delivery people,” he said.

He said this is all in an effort to make sure his customers do not go without. 

Knowing that it’s also cold and flu season, Miller suggests keeping medicine at home if you need it but do not “overdo” it and buy more than necessary.

Remember your fellow neighbors may need it too. 

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