Monday, September 27, 2010

Feeling the effects of a drug shortage

From the Ottawa Citizen:
Claudia McKeen's pharmacy fills 200 to 300 prescriptions a day, but she has to scramble for a couple of dozen of those because her suppliers keep running out of stock.

"There's no penicillin right now in Canada," she said Wednesday -- at least, none of the 300-milligram tablets, a standard size, which stopped coming a few weeks ago. That means a call to each doctor who prescribes it. Would amoxicillin be OK instead? The same goes for a host of drugs. Warfarin, a blood thinner, is now in short supply. So is hepatitis B vaccine; adults have to get two pediatric doses instead of a single shot.

"It's just craziness." Next week, who knows what will run out? There's seldom any warning.

McKeen owns the Glebe Apothecary on Bank Street. There have always been occasional drug shortages, but for the past year it has become much worse, she says.

"We're dispensing things in quarter-tablets because we can't get the right strength. It's a nuisance and a massive headache. It's a big, big concern and a time-waster. I think it's a very bad situation." McKeen warns shortages will likely cause more drug errors. Some of her older customers have trouble keeping track of their drugs already. If she substitutes three small blue pills for one big red pill, they'll have more trouble, she says. ...more

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