Antibiotic shortage hits Australia with more than 361 drugs in short supply

A critical antibiotic shortage that will plague Australia for several months means patients are unable to access their usual medicines as more than 300 are largely unavailable.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration added an additional 30 drugs to its shortages database Monday, bringing the total number of shortage drugs to 394.

A whopping 45 of these drugs are considered critical, with one being used for palliative care for cancer patients.

Liquid antibiotics for children are particularly limited as families are forced to travel to different pharmacies just to find the medication they need.

Other persistent drugs include those used to treat pneumonia, epilepsy, and strep throat. The contrast medium used for medical imaging is also scarce.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s drug shortage database shows that 394 drugs, 45 of which are considered critical, are in shortage

A further 77 drugs are to be included in the deficiency database in the coming months.

Sydney GP Hester Wilson said the shortage was an “amazing” reminder of Australia’s reliance on overseas suppliers.

“It really makes me realize how fragile our supply lines are and that we should consider manufacturing some of these medicines back in Australia,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Melbourne pharmacist Andrew Farmer also pointed to the danger of relying on international suppliers, particularly if Australia does not stand out in a competitive market.

“We’re such a small piece of the pie of the global pharmaceutical industry, and we don’t pay top dollar like the US, we don’t have the first priority when it comes to bringing stocks into the country,” he said.

The shortages mean doctors have to find alternative medicines for patients, which may be more expensive, less effective, or risk developing antibiotic resistance.

The two drugs used to treat Strep A infection are in short supply or unavailable as child deaths continue to rise

The two drugs used to treat Strep A infection are in short supply or unavailable as child deaths continue to rise

The news comes as pediatricians continue to battle a surge in infections caused by the group A streptococcal bacteria.

Found in the throat and on the skin, the bacterium is known to cause a range of infections, including strep throat, scarlet fever and cellulitis.

Usually, infection causes only mild symptoms, but in rare cases life-threatening conditions can develop, including blood poisoning, necrotizing fasciitis (a flesh-eating bacterium), toxic shock syndrome, pneumonia, and meningitis.

Safer Care Victoria said two children died in 2022 from group A strep infection and more than 60 were hospitalized.

“In 2022, there was a significant increase in cases of group A streptococcal infection,” it said.

“There have been at least three deaths from invasive streptococcal infections or toxic shock syndrome, including two from group A streptococcus, and many other children have required intensive care.”

Queensland has also reported a shocking head start in strep A cases, with nine deaths in 2022.

Medical experts said the shortage was a

Medical experts said the shortage was a “stunning” reminder that Australia should manufacture its own critical medicines rather than rely on international supplies

The disease has also made headlines in Britain, where 37 children have died from an infection since September.

dr Farmer said there is currently no penicillin available to treat strep throat, and the product amoxicillin, which is often used as an alternative, is also in short supply.

Victorian family doctor Bernard Shiu commissioned a local pharmacy to make its own liquid version of amoxicillin to give extremely ill children a better chance of recovery.

However, the tailored alternative costs patients nearly $45 compared to the $5.80 for amoxicillin.

“We’re talking about a really widely used antibiotic not being available, which is quite worrying,” said Dr. shiu

The Australian drug regulators are reportedly trying to enforce a supply plan that would ensure a six-month supply of critical medicines is always available. Antibiotic shortage hits Australia with more than 361 drugs in short supply

Bradford Betz

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