Pfizer Warns of Penicillin Shortages

As the United States faces national penicillin shortages, Pfizer warns about the antibiotic supply shortfalls that may stretch into 2024.

Pfizer informed its hospital customers about the expected stock-out situation for Bicillin® L-A and Bicillin® C-R prefilled syringes.

The company says supply was interrupted due to "a complex combination of factors," including increases in demand, increase in syphilis infection rates, and competitive shortages.

The supply of the long-acting version of penicillin and its pediatric dosing will be exhausted by the end of the second quarter of 2023, while combination penicillin syringes doses are expected to deplete during this year’s third quarter. Pfizer predicts the supply will recover in the second or third quarter of 2024.

An antibiotic, penicillin, is used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections and is a preferred treatment for syphilis at all stages. Earlier this year, the CDC reported that new cases of syphilis rose by 71% from 2015 to 2019.

The FDA reported in April the nationwide shortage of penicillin due to increased demand for the drug. The antibiotic joined a growing list of medications that are in short supply. In a survey conducted in February, 73% of U.S. pharmacists reported a shortage of amoxicillin, a common antibiotic used to treat infections like pneumonia and bronchitis.

Amidst the shortage of cancer drugs affecting 93% of cancer centers in the U.S., doctors report rationing life-saving treatments. To increase the supply of cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug, the FDA authorized a temporary importation from China.

The U.S. experienced a record five-year high of 295 active drug shortages at the end of 2022, according to a Senate report. The shortage was caused by a number of factors, including U.S. overreliance on both foreign and geographically concentrated sources for medications and their raw materials.

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