Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said a shortage of antibiotic drugs in the U.S. is the result of pharmaceutical companies not expecting a surge in demand rather than any disruptions in the supply chain.
Gottlieb told CBS “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan on Sunday that distributors made estimates for the year based on lower demand in the past two years, which stems from Americans taking extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Demand went up this year, they anticipated some increase in demand, but not as much as we’re seeing and not this early in the season,” Gottlieb said. “So it’s not any kind of disruption in supply. This isn’t like what we had with baby formula where manufacturers have been taken out of the market.”
The baby formula shortage earlier this year came after a major manufacturing plant from Abbott Nutrition was shut down, disrupting the supply chain.
Pharmacies and health care providers are running out of antibiotics like amoxicillin, worrying Americans who use the drug for bacterial infections, including ear infections for children.
Three of the largest manufacturers of Amoxicillin — Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Sandoz — have all reported shortages of the antibiotic drug this year.
There’s also a shortage of cold and flu medications as the U.S. struggles with a “tripledemic” of flu, COVID-19 and RSV, another respiratory disease.
Gottlieb, a board member with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, repeated that manufacturers simply did not anticipate this much demand, adding the pharmaceutical industry operates with a “sophisticated supply chain” and should catch up soon.
“Supply should catch up with demand and there are alternatives for things that are in shortage,” he said.