The prevalence of illnesses like COVID-19, the flu, and RSV is already challenging, and now there’s a notable increase in strep throat cases, putting parents in a tricky situation.
Adding to this, the FDA’s drug shortage database reveals a scarcity of amoxicillin powder, a key component in the liquid form of the commonly used antibiotic for children. There has been a shortage since October 2022, making it harder for parents to access the necessary medication.
The data indicates a steady rise in strep throat cases in the US, particularly affecting children aged 4 to 12, since August. However, the ongoing shortage of some types of amoxicillin, an antibiotic for treating bacterial infections, is creating complications in addressing these cases.
Amoxicillin held the top spot as the most prescribed antibiotic in the country in 2021, with 129 prescriptions filled per 1,000 people, according to CDC data. Alarmingly, antibiotics like amoxicillin are 42% more likely to face shortages than other types of drugs.
Group A Streptococcus bacteria, responsible for various infections, are most prevalent among children. This winter witnessed a surge in strep infections in the US, marking an increase of nearly 30% from the pre-pandemic peak.
Despite recognizing the impact of the shortage, the FDA emphasizes its inability to compel drug companies to increase production. While most manufacturers are still producing the antibiotic, they have placed it on allocation, allowing customers to order only limited quantities.
Although capsule and tablet forms of amoxicillin are not currently facing shortages, they may not be suitable for young children who struggle to swallow pills, especially when dealing with a sore throat. Additionally, alternative antibiotics may not be viable options for various reasons, further complicating the situation for parents and healthcare providers.
“For amoxicillin powder for oral suspension which went into shortage due to increased demand last fall, the four manufacturers continue to produce, release, and work to fully recover from the shortage. We will continue to keep the website updated with planned recovery dates as the companies provide them and offer assistance on anything the companies need to increase supply,” the CDC said in a statement Tuesday.