A shortage of a key Lyme disease antibiotic, doxycyline, is driving up prices in some American cities. Health officials in Wisconsin are monitoring the antibiotic shortage closely as warming weather marks the start of the main tick season in the Midwest.
Many pharmacies are completely out of the drug, leaving patients diagnosed with Lyme disease turning to alternative antibiotics, or having to acquire the medication from farther afield at a much higher cost. Luckily, says Joe Cordova of Wisconsin’s State Department of Health Services, pharmacies in the state are not raising their prices as is happening in other regions.
Why is there a Shortage of Doxycycline?
Cordova and his team called pharmacies to check their stocks of doxycycline and the prices and found that everyone had some in stock but that prices varied. This is the normal state of affairs but the worry is that the availability of the drug will be compromised in the coming weeks. The reason for this shortage of doxycycline, the main Lyme disease antibiotic, is that some major manufacturers have stopped making the medication and others are facing difficult manufacturing conditions. The increasing demand for the drug has combined with these factors to create a shortage in the supply chain.
UPDATE: A major importer of doxycycline, Wockhardt Ltd., is subject to an FDA import alert as of May 22nd, further compromising the supply of the drug.
Tick Season is Upon Us
Wisconsin state officials reported 2,400 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in 2011 and 1,200 probable cases. The summer weather brings more risk of exposure to the ticks that carry Lyme disease bacteria and so the timing of this shortage is not ideal. Ticks are also more active in warmer weather and the increased outdoor activity of ourselves and our companion animals means that we face a much higher probability of encountering ticks. As always, the best medicine is prevention, and with a shortage of the main Lyme disease antibiotic, this has never been more true.
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