3 Drug Shortages Tied to Hurricane Maria

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Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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We are still seeing the devastating effects of the hurricanes that damaged the United States, Puerto Rico, and several smaller islands this fall.

Around 10% of drugs prescribed in the United States are manufactured in Puerto Rico. While pharmaceutical companies implemented hurricane preparedness plans leading up to the storm and worked with drug shortage experts, it has been impossible to avoid the shortage of some critical medical products.

Here are three drugs that are experiencing shortages right now due to the recent hurricanes and tropical storms.

IV saline bags

One of the most notable shortages that the FDA has discussed is the IV saline bag shortage that has been affecting hospitals.  IV saline bags are used in the hospital to dilute medications for administration, and restore fluids. The FDA is working with pharmaceutical companies to address this shortage.

The good news? This shortage is expected to improve in the coming weeks as Baxter’s facilities recently regained power.

Levothyroxine (Synthroid)

Retail pharmacies and the general public are starting to see how the hurricane has impacted levothyroxine, the widely prescribed drug used to treat hypothyroidism.

For example, Walmart has issued a notice to patients who take levothyroxine, as they have increased their prices. Their notice states the following:

Due to the recent hurricane in Puerto Rico, where Levothyroxine is manufactured, there’s a temporary shortage and a cost increase to pharmacies. Effective December 8, 2017, your price will increase temporarily to $9 per 30-day supply or $24 per 90-day supply. We value your loyalty and business and are committed to offering you affordable pharmacy products and services. We’ll return to regular pricing as soon as this shortage has been resolved.

Amino Acids

Another important medication that has been affected by the hurricane are IV amino acids. The FDA has worked with Baxter to facilitate the temporary importation from facilities in the United Kingdom and Italy. They are also working with other amino acid manufacturers to increase supplies and ease the shortage.

Read here for more information, and a list of current shortages.

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