Oxycodone Shortage Leaves Pharmacies in Short Supply--March 2009

Jessica A. Smith, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Thursday, March 26, 2009
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Some pharmacies throughout the country are finding themselves in short supply of oxycodone after a hefty recall late in January. Ethex Corp issued the voluntary nationwide recall on the generic painkiller after quality control issues in the manufacturing process came to light.
 
Early this month, the FDA reported ongoing shortages of oxycodone 5-, 15-, and 30- mg immediate-release tablets resulting from the recall. According to the FDA, Mallinckrodt Inc is continuing efforts to meet the demand for the drug, and both Vintage Pharmaceuticals and Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc are distributing it as it becomes available.
 
Rite Aid is affected by the oxycodone dry spell, although the drug’s scarcity has been “intermittent,” according to Cheryl Slavinsky, director of public relations for the company.
 
“As product becomes available, we are making it available to our patients,” said Slavinsky. “That availability has been improving as time goes on.”
 
The stores also were hit with a shortage of metoprolol ER when the recall was first announced, but they have been able to keep up with demand more recently.
 
Still, supply is trickling in slowly from distributors, leaving pharmacies scrambling to find other makers of the drug to meet patients’ need for it. Due to manufacturing limitations, however, there is only so much to go around.
 
“The industry has to ramp back up. This is affecting everyone,” CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis told the Patriot Ledger, a Massachusetts newspaper, in a March 16 article.
 
Although CVS pharmacies reportedly have used alternate manufacturers to keep the drug in stock, the shipments cannot come in fast enough in some places.
 
“Kmart Pharmacy uses all of its resources to try and ensure we have any product that has a market shortage, in order to provide continued care to its patients,” Kmart spokesperson Shannelle Armstrong told Pharmacy Times. “If the product is completely unavailable, we will attempt to find a local competitor who may still have product in stock, or we will contact the prescribing physician and try to determine a suitable change in treatment.”
 
With the potential for withdrawal in patients looming large, doctors may indeed see an influx of patients seeking to be switched to another drug with greater availability.
 
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