A global shortage of source materials is at the heart of the shortages
Amoxicillin, a first-line antibiotic for human and animal use, is getting hard to come by. Supply chain issues have resulted in drug shortage – which means veterinarians have to do a re-estimate of their current amoxicillin stock.
It is not just amoxicillin currently difficult to acquire from retail pharmacies in North America and Canada. Many other prescription drugs are also becoming rare. The tablet form of amoxicillin is still available, but the suspension form is the one that is currently not easy to get. Amoxicillin in suspension form is used more in children and animals. Veterinarians use amoxicillin to treat respiratory and urinary tract infections. The suspension form gives the advantage of easy dosing adjustments. It is also flavored, which makes it easier to give to animals.
There are various reasons speculated to be the cause of the shortage. Factors like discontinuations, manufacturing issues, and quality problems can contribute to drug shortages. If drug manufacturers are inquired about the reasons for the shortage, they usually blame supply chain disruptions caused by issues with the availability of raw materials. Since the pandemic, such supply chain disruptions have become more frequent.
China is considered the largest supplier of source materials for antibiotic production, but since the pandemic, it has been experiencing problems in ensuring the continuity of material supply and subsequent drug production. Because of Amoxicillinthe pandemic, China is pursuing a policy of shutting down regions that are the most vulnerable to COVID outbreaks, which means drug manufacturing industries in that region also have to be closed down. The country also has a power rationing mechanism in place which means it shuts down electricity supply to regions that experience extreme climate and those which are likely to consume higher levels of power – resulting in a halt to production activities.
Pharmaceutical companies all across the world are being affected by the situation in China. Many companies are stocking a higher quantity of source materials to cope with the situation and to ensure that normal drug supplies are maintained.
While antibiotic shortages are an issue of concern, there is another way of looking at this situation. Such shortages can be an effective means to control antibiotic overuse. Antimicrobial resistance is a global nemesis that is growing because of the inappropriate and unchecked use of antibiotics. Antibiotic shortages are priming veterinarians and other health care professionals to adapt to lesser use of these drugs. However still, the immediate reaction of most veterinarians to the shortage is to keep additional supplies of the drug.