There is an ongoing medicines shortage internationally. Alamy Stock Photo

Popular antibiotic in short supply amid ongoing medicines shortage problem

Several of the generic versions of Augmentin are not available.

THE HEALTH PRODUCTS Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has said a commonly prescribed antibiotic used to treat infections, including sinus and ear infections, is currently in short supply. 

It comes as the Irish Pharmacy Union has indicated it is hopeful that pharmacists could soon gain the authority to dispense alternatives when prescribed medicines are out of stock under a “serious shortage protocol”. There is an ongoing problem with medicines shortages in Ireland and internationally.

Several types of tablets of the generic version of Augmentin may not become available until next month while there is no expected return date indicated for others.

The HPRA told The Journal on Friday that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) the company responsible for supplying Augmentin, had all versions of the branded antibiotic in stock, including versions of the medicine suitable for children.

However, there are shortages of some generic versions of the same drug, amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, in tablet form. This in turn has had a knock-on effect of distribution of branded Augmentin, the HPRA explained, as GSK has “implemented measures to ensure equitable distribution of Augmentin supplies”.

The HPRA said patients should discuss possible alternatives with their doctor or pharmacist pending the resumption of normal supply.

Several pharmacists nationwide to whom The Journal spoke on Friday confirmed they had experienced shortages recently of this antibiotic, which can be used to treat conditions including ear infection and acute sinusitis. 

Susan O’Dwyer, head of professional services at the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), said: “There are medicines shortages every day of the week both in Ireland and across the EU”. 

“It’s very difficult to predict what might go into short supply,” she said.

The IPU has been calling for pharmacists to be able to substitute out-of-stock medicines under a “serious shortage protocol”.

O’Dwyer said the industry association “expects progress in the coming months” in its talks on this issue with the Department of Health, but added that this is “not a given”. 

This would mean sick patients would not have to go back to their GP for a new prescription or travel to multiple pharmacies to try and fill out their script.

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