Lyme Disease Drug Shortage Prompts Nationwide Worries
Excerpted from Yahoo News: (05/29/2013)
Concern over a shortage of a drug popular for treating Lyme disease has caused two U.S. senators to ask for federal intervention. The shortage is particularly of concern as most of the country moves into Lyme disease season.
According to the Bangor Daily News, senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have contacted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to request action.
The drug in low supply is doxycycline, which the Mayo Clinic says is a staple of treatment for early-stage Lyme disease. It’s the drug of choice for adults and children older than 8 years old and is administered either by mouth or by IV.
MedlinePlus reports that doxycycline has other uses like treating bacterial infections, anthrax after inhalation, genital and urinary conditions, skin infections, and acne. Some travelers take it to prevent malaria.
According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, most of the drug companies that produce doxycycline could not give a reason for a shortage or predict how long it will last. The shortage began early in 2013 and has caused prices to soar. One manufacturer says it is providing the antibiotic only to current contracted customers.
In Maine, the shortage of doxycycline pills is more acute than the IV form of the drug. A hospital pharmacist found that 50 pills would cost the facility between $197 to $270 if available. As the nationwide supply dwindles, healthcare providers are forced to switch to other drugs, depending on the specific condition needing treatment.
For example, azithromycin treats certain types of pneumonia, while doctors sometimes use amoxicillin for Lyme disease. However, the drug of choice for Lyme patients is doxycycline.