Respiratory viruses don’t respond to antibiotics, but the Mayo Clinic says it’s common for secondary bacterial infections, such as ear infections, strep throat, and pneumonia, to occur after a surge in viral infections. Amoxicillin is a common prescription antibiotic most often used to treat certain infections caused by bacteria.
Is there a national shortage of amoxicillin?
Yes, there is a national shortage of amoxicillin.
WHAT WE FOUND
Amoxicillin is in short supply this cold and flu season due to limited availability and increased demand for the antibiotic nationwide, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) also reports widespread shortages of amoxicillin in the U.S. on its website.
The FDA tracks product availability at the national level and receives information from manufacturers about their ability to supply the market. On Oct. 28, the FDA listed “amoxicillin oral powder for suspension” (the liquid version of the antibiotic) as “currently in shortage” in its drug shortage database.
Amoxicillin manufacturers Aurobindo and Teva Pharmaceuticals both reported to the FDA that the antibiotic is available “on allocation,” which the ASHP defines as limited distribution, according to AAP. Both companies also list a "demand increase for the drug” as one of the reasons behind the current shortage.
Pharmaceutical company Sandoz told the FDA amoxicillin is only available in limited quantities or unavailable altogether at this time. Other manufacturers of the antibiotic did not list a reason for the shortage, according to ASHP.
In an email, a spokesperson for CVS Pharmacy also told VERIFY there is “an industry-wide supplier shortage of certain doses of amoxicillin.”
“We’re working with manufacturers to replenish supply as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “In the event an individual CVS Pharmacy store is temporarily out-of-stock, our pharmacy teams assist patients in locating the product at other nearby locations and work with prescribers to determine potential alternatives.
It is unclear when amoxicillin will be available nationwide again — but the AAP says the shortage is anticipated to last several months.
If you’re having trouble finding amoxicillin in your area, you should talk to your pharmacist or the health care provider who prescribed the medication to see if there are alternatives that can be used instead to treat the infection, according to Nipunie Rajapakse, M.D., a pediatric infectious diseases physician at the Mayo Clinic Children's Center.
"Most health care providers should be familiar with what those are for the specific infection your child is being diagnosed with and should be able to recommend a different antibiotic to help treat them if you're unable to find amoxicillin," Rajapakse said.
The AAP says your pharmacist or health care provider may suggest other forms of amoxicillin, such as chewable tablets, capsules that can be opened, or tablets that can be crushed and mixed with liquid or a bite of food, like applesauce, if the liquid version is not available. They may also recommend another type of antibiotic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.