Experts say we'll likely see more prescription drug shortages as coronavirus spreads

Posted at 4:52 PM, Mar 03, 2020

As the novel coronavirus spreads, the American Pharmacists Association (APA) says we’ll likely see more prescription drug shortages.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the first shortage because of production issues in China.

It’s unclear what medicine it is, but if you rely on a certain drug, the APA says it’s important to be prepared and know your options but don’t panic.

"Most medicines have alternatives,” said Thomas Menighan, Executive VP and CEO of the APA. “Knowing what those alternatives are is an important thing for consumers to know."

The APA says it would like to see the United States become more self-sufficient in drug production. About 80% of the ingredients in U.S. medicines come from other countries.

The FDA is talking with 180 manufacturers around the world about their drug supplies. The agency is also watching 20 drugs that are only produced in China. It hasn't identified them either.

The APA says that whether or not to name the impacted drug is a tough call that lawmakers are still debating.

"On the one hand, you've got the issue of helping patients and pharmacists and physicians and prescribers being prepared to help manage those challenges with their patients,” said Menighan. “On the other hand, if they list those drugs, we run the risk of, or run on the bank if you will, of patients hoarding them to the degree that it makes it difficult for to get their share."

If you're worried about supplies, the APA says you can also talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the source of your meds.