Las Vegas pharmacies face cold and flu medicine shortages

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 11:29 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Whether it’s big chain pharmacies or small independent ones, they’re all running into the same shortages of medicine to fight the triple threat of respiratory viruses this season.

“It’s never been that crazy. This is the first time that this panic thing is going on,” owner of Belmont Pharmacy Bobby Benson said. “I haven’t seen this in the past 25 years as a practicing pharmacist.”

Local pharmacists are seeing medicine meant for kids flying off the shelves. This is amid cases of RSV, COVID and the flu. It’s largely liquid antivirals and antibiotics that are selling out, according to pharmacists. Benson said it is mostly the common over-the-counter meds like Motrin, Tylenol and cough syrup.

The Nevada State Board of Pharmacy told FOX5 the shortages stem from pharmacies not ordering enough of a certain drug that is in need during a spike in illness. The other main reason is production issues.

“What we’ve seen over the past years in many different industries [including] the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, there’s been a consolidation,” Executive Secretary of the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy Dave Wuest said. “You used to have many more people making it, and now it’s less people making more of it. So, when you lose one of those it can be dire onto the system.”

Wuest said for prescription drugs pharmacists can talk to the doctor and change the medicine.

“They can change it to another therapeutic or another drug, and that can all happen without the patient going back to the doctor’s office,” Wuest said.

Benson’s shelves were full at Belmont Pharmacy, Wednesday. He said he’s worked hard with vendors to keep the meds in stock, but said the public can help manage the issue too.

“Everyone’s buying. Even those that don’t need it. So, I would suggest they just chill. Buy what you need and stop holding,” Benson said.

He believes the shortages will be resolved soon because there’s lots of pressure on manufacturers to keep up with the demand.

The FDA said it’s monitoring the situation.