Doctors May Be Caught Off Guard by Antibiotic Shortages

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Doctors May Be Caught Off Guard by Antibiotic Shortages
Doctors May Be Caught Off Guard by Antibiotic Shortages

THURSDAY, April 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Between 2001 and 2013, there were shortages of 148 antibiotics. And the shortages started getting worse in 2007, according to a report published online April 22 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

"Many of the drug shortages were among the only drugs to treat a particular condition, drugs to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and drugs used to treat children," lead researcher Larissa May, M.D., an associate professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., told HealthDay.

In the study, nearly half the shortages were for antibiotics needed to treat severe infections, including Clostridium difficile, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, among others. Many of the shortages were of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

In all, there were multiple shortages of 32 antibiotics, which lasted an average of six months. At the end of the study, 26 antibiotics remained in short supply or were not available, the researchers found. According to May, drug companies are not required to report shortages, so hospitals and doctors are often caught off guard. Ideally, reporting shortages should be mandatory so doctors and hospitals can plan for them, she suggested.

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