Valley pharmacies affected by prescription drug shortages
There's growing frustration over the shortage of some key prescription medications across the U.S. People who call Louisiana, West Virginia, and Alaska home are struggling the most in getting the prescriptions they need.
So, do those concerns linger here in the Mahoning Valley? 21 News spoke with a handful of pharmacies on the shortages they're seeing and who's to blame.
"Often it's the increased number of phone calls, 'Hey do you guys have drug x, y and z?" explained Jacob Sweet, Owner/ Pharmacist with Elite Pharmacy in Canfield. "That's our biggest indicator that something [a shortage] is on the horizon."
Pharmacies like Elite and Franklin Pharmacy have seen shortages of ADHD meds including Vyvanse and Ritalin and certain diabetes medications some use for weight loss, like Ozempic and Trulicity.
"During the pandemic, the use of these kinds of drugs skyrocketed," explained George Graham, Pharmacist at Franklin Pharmacy. "They made it simpler for people to go online with videos and talk to a doctor anywhere in the country and they could get this medicine."
Drug makers and the DEA continue to point fingers at one another for the ongoing issue.
Small business pharmacies often use a different wholesaler than chains, having more supplies than places like CVS or Walgreens.
"We use a different drug supplier than the other chains do in the area," Sweet explained. "So when they don't have things they usually do have them. It's just a difference of where we get our drugs from."
Franklin Pharmacy said the DEA is mandated to limit the supply of certain drugs with the ongoing opioid crisis.
"They tell the manufacturers they can only make so much and then they also tell the wholesalers they can carry so much," Graham added. "So the major wholesalers are having a huge problem keeping up with this."
"I don't know if we can make a single drug here without relying on another country," Sweet added. "So, if you have political unrest in one country where they can't get those ingredients to make a drug, it filters down the line and we see it here at the retail level."
Pharmacies like Wedgewood Pharmacy and Hometown Pharmacy have been faced with shortages in the past but are holding steady. Elite tells 21 News it can be an issue that they hope is solved for the health of their customers.
"People are coming in and they're having good results on a prescription," Sweet explained. "They get a month or two on it and then it's, 'Hey, I'm sorry you have to go back to step 0 because your medication is no longer available."