ORLANDO, Fla. — Hospitals across the country have reported rising cases of strep, prompting the CDC to investigate the possible nationwide increase in infections. Concerns about rising cases of Group A Strep are compounded by widespread shortages of drugs including Amoxicillin.
Central Florida healthcare providers told Spectrum News that the supply chain issues and high rates of respiratory infections have left patients empty handed.
Pharmacy technician Parker Baro, who works at Orlando Pharmacy, says he has been keeping an eye on Amoxicillin. Although Orlando Pharmacy has yet to experience a shortage, across the city and state, shortages of the drug have made it harder for patients to get necessary treatment for strep.
“It’s no secret that there’s a lot of pharmacies and a lot of patients that are struggling to find it, which is also since there’s been a recent surge in viral cases,” said Baro.
In response to the Amoxicillin shortage, the FDA has issued a guidance allowing pharmacies to “compound” the medication – to increase available product.
“It’s just basically taking pills that adults would be taking and crushing them up in a mortar and pestle, kind of like you’d see in a traditional pharmacy, basically creating a formula that a child would more easily be able to swallow,” explained Baro.
The shortage of Amoxicillin has likely been made worse by the increase in strep throat in Central Florida.
“We’re seeing an increase in strep,” said Dr. Tim Hendrix, Senior medical Director of AdventHealth Centra Care. Last week we had an increase of about 20% in the number of people coming in and testing positive on our rapid strep test at Centra Care.”
Hendrix said it’s not only strep that’s sending patients to Centra Care.
“Last week we saw 1,500 patients that tested positive for the flu,” said Hendrix. “This same time last year was 600.”
For Parker, getting to know his patients makes the industry’s challenges all worthwhile.
“Healthcare’s really fast-paced, it’s a lot of making decisions that are really life or death,” he said. “And here there’s definitely some kind of flavor of that, but it’s a lot of getting to interact with the people you really like and a lot of just helping people out.”
With rates of flu especially high this year, Hendrix recommends getting a flu vaccine if you haven’t already – to protect yourself and vulnerable people you may be in contact with.