Pharmacies warn that there is no amoxicillin in syrup for children

The catalan pharmacies are experiencing a shortage of amoxicillin syrup, an antibiotic for children that is prescribed for bacterial infections such as pharyngotonsillitis. It is a Spain’s general problem the lack of this drug and others. But this November shortages of this infant antibiotic are becoming particularly notorious.

“In recent years we are having problems with several medications, for various reasons. This month, what has raised the alarm is the shortage of amoxicillin syrup, a pediatric drug,” he says. Mercè Barau, community pharmacist and coordinator of the Col.legi Oficial de Farmacèutics de Barcelona (COFB) of pharmacies in Gràcia. According to her, this November is having “more demand” for this drug because there is “more bacterial infections, especially pharyngotonsillitis.”

In this context, the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Health Products (Aemps). has authorized the sale of 250-milligram sachets of amoxicillin. “Parents should take the dose that is due. If the child gets 200 milligrams, they take that portion. Pharmacies must explain it very well to families.” Barau points out. She says she is “concerned” because this situation also generates “more effort and work” in pharmacies.

“When I close I have to look for solutions so that the next day the children are not left half-treated of amoxicillin. This month, warns this pharmacist, it is also running short of one antipsychotic, ribotril 0.5 milligrams. “But this has not created the same alarm in the media,” he says.

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The Catalan Society of Pediatrics warns of the risk of antibiotic use. “As there has been a shortage for days, we give the child amoxicillin clavulanate [el fármaco augmentine]which is an antibiotic. But you can create resistance. Augmentin is an antibiotic of broader spectrum, i.e., it catches more types of microbes,” says Pepe Serrano, member of the board of directors of this medical society. Serrano assures that this is a “Spain-wide problem.”

More shortages

There are not only shortages of amoxicillin syrup for children. There are other drugs such as kreom (for diseases of the pancreas) or certain inhalers that also have been in short supply for some time. “Then there are occasional shortages, such as medicines for the nervous system which sometimes can be substituted for generics but sometimes cannot,” says Barau.

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Also in short supply is the orfidal, although the generic may be used instead, lorazepam. “But, for example, there is nothing at all about depakine chrono of 600, a drug for epileptics. There is no generic or anything. This also worries me a lot because I have two customers who need it.” Barau explains. From paracetamol sachets or effervescent are missing, but tablets are not.

Why are they in short supply?

According to Barau, the shortage of drugs, which some have been experiencing for years, is due to. “various causes.” Partly it is because the market sometimes demands more doses than there are. It happens for example with the ozempic antidiabetic, which is now also taken by people for weight loss (not just people with diabetes), which has increased demand.

Another cause is the “lack of raw material”. “The globalization influences all of this. If there are two companies that manufacture for the whole world…. It’s like what happened with the masks in confinement: we were so dependent on China that we ran out of them. We depend on very few supply points and we have no raw material,” Barau points out. Through a COFB tool, called the ‘farmahelp’, pharmacists send out shortage alerts.

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