Drug shortages place burden on patients and doctors

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SARASOTA- You’ve been taking the same medication for years, you head to the pharmacy to place your usual prescription, and the pharmacist has bad news.

“The medication isn’t available anymore,” Dr. Cooper said. “And the doctor didn’t know, the patient didn’t know, and perhaps even the pharmacist wasn’t even aware of it. So often times it’s a surprise and then everyone has to scramble to find the right substitute.”

Dr. Daniel Cooper says drugs can be discontinued due to rising production cost, manufacturing issues, and a slight change in the drugs formula.

And the problem is more common than you think.

“Every week we see a problem,” Dr. Cooper said. “Which puts a burden on patients care, it also puts a burden on doctor’s practices, when you face all the bureaucracy all the time.”

It isn’t just humans facing drug shortages.

“We’re seeing this in veterinary medicine as well,” Dr. Small said. “Many of the drugs we did use that were name brand drugs are being discontinued, and there is a big move toward generics.”

Dr. Howard Small says most times there is a substitute.

“They can give you a similar medication,” Dr. Small said. “Same ingredients, also possibly a generic, that will do the same function for your pet.”

Dr. Daniel Cooper says filling your prescription early can give you enough time to find a new medication.

“At least a week in advance,” Dr. Cooper said. “So that they can anticipate a problem. Usually a pharmacist can find out within 24 hours if there is an issue, so that’s enough time for patient and pharmacist to contact the doctor.”

Dr. Cooper says simple pharmaceutical regulations could also help patients and doctors be aware of changes.

“If there is any kind of shortage that should be a public notice,” Dr. Cooper said. “Whether that’s a shortage of an anti-biotic or of any kind of drugs.”

Dr. Cooper says simple pharmaceutical regulations could help patients be more informed by requiring companies to issue a public notice in the event of a shortage.

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Samantha Sonner
Multimedia Journalist Samantha Sonner comes to the Suncoast from Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she worked as a reporter and host for KRWG TV/FM reporting on local politics, immigration, and border issues. Samantha grew up on Long Island, New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she worked at WAER, the campus NPR station and interned at television stations in Central New York. Samantha is excited for the Florida Sunshine, and to be living so close to fantastic beaches. Feel free to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for story updates and news, or to send her story tips and ideas. You can also email her at samantha.sonner@snntv.com.