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Nationwide drug shortage being felt by Michigan residents, health facilities

'It's extremely frustrating.'
Posted at 12:56 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 12:56:03-04

(WXYZ) — The U.S. is experiencing a prescription drug shortage, and this is affecting both health care facilities as well as patients.

On the FDA’s website, several hundred medications are listed as “currently in shortage.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL LIST

From hospitals to pharmacies, there is a shortage of medicines, and it's impacting local residents.

"She gets told like 'it will be there, just go up and it's ready,' and then we come and it's only a certain amount of the pills, it's always an issue and then we are running to another Rite Aid," said Daniel Maxwell.

She is talking about her mom, who relies on Tramadol to get through the day. And lately, getting the painkiller has been an issue.

"I just heard there might be an issue with some inhalers and for me, I have been having a lot of issues ... my asthma's gotten worse, I'm doubling up, and ... it's scary when it acts up, and now I’m a little tense," she said.

Elizabeth Kilpatrick has also faced similar issues, especially with baby formula for her grandkid.

"It's extremely frustrating, and I can go to 5 – 6 stores in a day in an hour and just walk in, look at empty shelves," said Kilpatrick.

The FDA has listed over 110 medications that are in short supply. They range from tablets to injections. Rudy Najm from iPharmacy says it’s a tough market right now.

"Diabetes drugs, injections, and it's also affecting a lot of essentials for hospitals and doctor’s offices; we are seeing a lot of shortages in normal saline, lidocaine injections, some of the basics," said Najm.

Annette Karageanes from Beaumont Health says at least 50 drugs are in short supply at her end.

"We do try to do therapeutic interchanges when we can and when they are available," said Karageanes.

Najm and Karageanes both say the medicine shortage has been exacerbated in the last few years.

"We tend to rely a lot on foreign countries for our manufacturing and you factor in trade wars, COVID restrictions, and geopolitical tensions and it's affecting a lot of supply into the U.S.," said Najm.

Karageanes says, "Definitely disappointing that we are not in better shape that we already have been."

Making matters worse, the limited supply is also hitting patients’ wallets.

"With the gas prices, everything is going up, shipping cost, manufacturing, labor, so the prices are going up," said Najm.

In an official statement to 7 Action News, the FDA says “The authority is actively monitoring drug availability and we are committed to working with our public health partners, manufacturers and distributors to help mitigate shortages and help ensure continued patient access to vital safe and effective drugs.”

What do patients do in the meantime?

"Unfortunately, they have to just shop around ... to see who still has something on the shelf," said Najm.

And if they don't, Najm said they may travel.

"We see them sometimes, they just go to Canada. They make a trip just to be able to shop for medicine," he said.

That’s why folks like Ashley Miller are resorting to other measures.

"I asked my doctor to write me a 30 or a 90-day supply, it gives me more time to figure out," said Miller.

Karageanes says, "We have a collective inventory that we can pull from from those eight hospitals, so each of the sites might adjust their inventory and increase the safety stock of those of products so that it's not as critical when see blips in the supply chain."

As for a long-term solution, Najm says the U.S. should be self-sufficient and not depend on foreign countries.

"We really want to buy American, it's becoming an empty slogan. All the drugs are made in India, China, Japan, so it's time for the government to provide like tax incentives, financial support for manufacturers to come and produce here in the U.S.," he said.