U.S. experiences pediatric antibiotic shortage

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With high cases in COVID, Flu and RSV illnesses, the U.S. is beginning to experience high demand for children’s antibiotics such as Tylenol and Advil, which has caused a significant shortage.

Doctor Swapna Reddy, at ASU’s College of Health Solutions, spoke with us about the shortage amid an ongoing pandemic.

Amoxicillin is the common antibiotic that the community is seeing a shortage of, Reddy said.

“I think what’s really important here is kids are living through what’s being called a triple-demic. And what’s in those three– we’re talking about RSV, we’re talking about influenza or the flu and we’re talking about COVID-19. There are sharp spikes in all three, and so it’s really important to note that amoxicillin, or the anti-biotic that’s in shortage, is not really used to treat RSV, but it is used to treat secondary infections that are associated with RSV. So as we’ve seen that spike in RSV, we’ve seen an increase in demand for amoxicillin, and there’s just a national shortage, including here in Arizona,” Reddy said.

It’s a serious issue that there are shortages, because families are either not able to get ahold of the drug, use a replacement or visit multiple pharmacies to get their hands on it. People in rural areas and low-income families could be hit especially hard, according to Reddy.

Reddy said that there are also shortages in everyday, over-the-counter medications, like Tamiflu or Ibuprofen for children.

“Most of those are used to treat the symptoms related to the flu, but it’s hard to get them over the counter in many pharmacies,” Reddy said.

The reasoning for these shortages is unknown. The pharmaceutical companies have not been completely transparent, according to Reddy.

“They’re saying basically that this is an unexpected spike in demand. There seems to be real supply chain issues. But what we do know is that this is impacting families not just in Arizona and not just in the U.S., but we’re seeing big shortages in places like Canada and the U.K. as well,” Reddy said.

Doctor Swapna Reddy, ASU's College of Health Solutions

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