SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

Antibiotic shortages could be deadly, study reports

Antibiotic shortages could result in the death of some patients, according to a study published yesterday in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The study, conducted from 2001 to 2013, considered data from the University of Utah Drug Information Service database. It found that 148 antibiotics were in short supply, and the problem got worse starting in 2007. Nearly half of the shortages were for antibiotics used to treat life-threatening illnesses.

"We found a tremendous number of drugs that are used to treat-life threatening infections that just were not available," study author Larissa May of George Washington University said. "There are implications that patients may not do as well clinically or potentially even die because these agents are not available."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says shortages occur when the supply of all clinically interchangeable versions of an FDA-regulated drug product is unable to meet the projected demand. Reasons for shortages include drug company mergers, facility consolidation, plant quality issues and shrinking profit margins for generic drugs.

To address the issue, the study suggests manufacturers be required to report shortages early so contingency plans can be made and that pharmacists regularly inform doctors about antibiotics that are out of stock so an alternative drug can be prescribed.

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University of Utah Drug Information Service

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