Fulton Pharmacists Face Drug Shortages

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FULTON - Callaway County pharmacists said Monday they continuously face drug shortages due to low supply from drug manufacturers.

Callaway County Hospital Pharmacy Director Paul Vossen said shortages are caused by an array of factors that include the economy, putting a cap on the profit margin for drug manufacturers in 2005, and natural disasters destroying factories.

Vossen also said these shortages have never compromised a patient's life because he has been able to find alternate therapy or a different prescription strength. He also said he does not think the situation is going to improve this year.

"Antibiotics are going to be a big issue this year. We have already been notified that certain manufacturers have run into problems."

In addition to antibiotics, Vossen said other drugs in short supply include nausea medicine, injectables for surgery, and anesthesia.

Another pharmacist agreed that the situation may not improve this year. Pharmacy Manager John Keener at Red Cross Pharmacy in Fulton also said most shortages are for ADHD-type medications. Keener said with the shortages it is common to work closely with the competition--other pharmacies--to try and find a drug in short supply.

Both pharmacists said drug shortages occur every day and often it is unknown when drugs will be available.

In Columbia, drug shortages also occur. Staff at Kilgore's Medical Pharmacy north location said drug shortages are more sporadic now than three months ago when they were severe. Similar to Fulton, staff members at Kilgore's said they see ADHD and chemotherapy drug shortages.

In October, President Obama signed an executive order that would direct the FDA to help reduce drug shortages and would require drug manufacturers to notify the FDA six months prior to a potential drug shortage.