Medicine shortages exacerbated by stockpiling, but your local pharmacies can help

Child medication out of stock at local pharmacy
Posted at 6:20 AM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 11:43:51-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — If you've recently attempted to pick up a prescription or common cold and flu medicine, only to find out the pharmacy is out – you're not alone. There is a shortage of several medications in Michigan, causing stress for patients, pharmacists and doctors.

Imagine this; your child gets sick, and you find out it's an ear infection and a ruptured eardrum. Your pediatrician prescribes amoxicillin - a common antibiotic used to treat infections. You run to the pharmacy as quick as you can to find relief for your child, only to find out they're out. It's something Grand Rapids parent Bill Kirk doesn't have to imagine.

"I think you kind of assume that you'll be able to get the medicine you need." Kirk said after having to call around to get a substitution for his 2-year-old daughter to treat her infection. "Kind of freaky that in America it's hard to get basic medicine sometimes."

And Kirk's experience isn't unique.

"We're seeing shortages in a number of different medications.” director of Clinical Pharmacy Services for Corewell Health Margo Bowman said.

Amoxicillin is hard to come by, but so is children's cold and flu medicines like Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Manufacturers aren't being clear as to exactly why this is happening, but medical professionals can assume.

"It's likely due to the increase in demand because of all of the different viruses and different illnesses that are going around" Bowman explains as people are stock up on the medication just in case they do get sick.

"All the supply and the demand is off with COVID." Kay Pharmacy owner Mike Koelzer said.

Kay Pharmacy in Grand Rapids isn’t seeing a shortage of Amoxicillin, but they're feeling the second-hand effects.

"One of the harder things for us has been when people call us because they can't fill their Amoxicillin somewhere else," Koelzer explained.

He emphasized there are alternatives to all these medications and health professionals are used to having to get creative.

"We can say, ‘well, you know, here's a chewable tablet, you could take a half of this, or here's the adult liquid Tylenol, and you can use this portion of this, things like that.’"

Child medication out of stock at local pharmacy
Child medication out of stock at local pharmacy

Although it may result in some delay of care, pharmacists and medical professionals are here to help you through these difficult times.

"We're just grateful that we were able to get our hands on something that helps," Kirk said.

Medical experts say supply will catch up with demand eventually and should level out within a few months, but stockpiling in fear you may run out is not recommended while this is going on.

If you can't find a medication you need, call around local pharmacies and check with them. They'll work with you to make sure you have everything you need to stay healthy.