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Shortage of Antibiotics Likely In US

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Shortage of Antibiotics Likely In US

WASHINGTON, DC (IANS) – The United States is facing a potential shortage of antibiotics as Pfizer has warned doctors that it expects to run out of its formulations for children and adults by the end of June, according to media reports.

In a letter sent to doctors this week, the US drug maker informed them that it is experiencing a shortfall of Bicillin, a long-acting injectable form of the antibiotic penicillin. Bicillin is commonly used to treat common childhood infections and is also the recommended treatment for the sexually transmitted infection syphilis, which has been on the rise in the US and other countries.

The rates of syphilis have been steadily increasing, with a more than 30 percent rise in 2021 among adults, as reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This has put additional strain on the limited supplies of the treatment.

Pfizer explained in the letter, which was posted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that the supply interruption is the result of a combination of factors including significant increases in demand due to rising syphilis infection rates and competitive shortages. The company stated that it has prioritized the manufacturing capacity of Bicillin to meet the increased demand.

While Bicillin is not widely used in pediatrics due to other preferred options like amoxicillin, it is crucial for treating pregnant patients with syphilis. Erin Fox, a pharmacist at the University of Utah who monitors drug shortages, emphasized the importance of the adult formulation of Bicillin L-A for this specific treatment.

Syphilis can be transmitted from mother to baby in the womb, potentially leading to severe consequences such as fetal death, blindness, or deafness.

This shortage follows a previous scarcity of chemotherapy drugs in the US earlier this year. To address the rising demand, the FDA temporarily allowed the import of cancer drugs manufactured in China.

Pfizer noted that supplies were strained during the fall and winter when amoxicillin faced shortages, prompting doctors to turn to Bicillin as an alternative. The FDA acknowledged the potential impact of limited availability of certain products on healthcare providers and patients, stating that it is closely collaborating with manufacturers and others in the supply chain to understand, mitigate, and address intermittent or reduced availability of these products.

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