There May Be a Shortage of Your Life-Saving Medication Due to COVID-19

Treatments for a variety of conditions are already in short supply—and more are likely to follow.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused dramatic supply chain issues for medical facilities around the globe, with highly-publicized shortages on everything from gloves to N95 respirators to ventilators. However, those are far from the only necessary provisions with critically low availability at the moment. According to the FDA Drug Shortages database, 117 medications are currently in short supply, and new supply issues are being reported on a near-daily basis—causing many life-saving treatments to become unavailable to those who need them. Read on to discover which medication shortages coronavirus has triggered around the globe. And for more insight into the supply and demand issues brought about by COVID-19, discover The Shocking Problem That Could Prevent You From Getting the Coronavirus Vaccine.

Antiretroviral medications

antiretroviral medication pills

A June 22 report from UNAIDS, based on government surveys done in Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, and Thailand, reveals that many of the active ingredients used in antiretroviral medications used to treat HIV are currently experiencing shortages. These supply chain issues—including reduced distribution of raw ingredients and packaging, limited staffing reducing manufacturing output, and travel restrictions causing reduced distribution of the final product—are limiting the accessibility of certain antiretroviral medications including tenofovir/lamivudine/efavirenz (TLE) and tenofovir/lamivudine/dolutegravir (TLD), which are used to treat 80 percent of HIV patients in low- and middle-income countries. And for more on coronavirus across the globe, The World's Record Spike in COVID Cases Is Thanks to These Countries.


zoloft sertraline packaging

Zoloft and its generic form, sertraline—both used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder—are in short supply, with the FDA reporting reduced availability for both the medication's tablet and oral solution forms. And the shortage couldn't have come at a worse time: According to a June 1 report from Bloomberg, prescriptions for Zoloft increased 12 percent in the past year alone. And if the pandemic is contributing to your depression and anxiety, check out these 10 Mental Health Tips for People at High Risk for COVID-19.


young boy using oxygen mask in hospital

Oxygen—which is used to treat everything from asthma to shock to cardiac arrest—is in critically short supply around the world. According to a June 24 report from the Associated Press, countries including Bangladesh, the Congo, Guinea, and Tanzania are experiencing dire oxygen shortages just when oxygen therapy is needed the most. "One of the most effective ways of saving lives is providing oxygen to patients who need it," explained Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), in a media briefing on June 24. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.


white hands holding glass vial of morphine painkiller

Morphine, a prescription drug used for the treatment of pain that doesn't respond to over-the-counter medication, is currently in short supply in its injectable form, according to the FDA database. However, this isn't the first time in recent years the U.S. hospital system has had to contend with reduced morphine availability. According to a March study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, there were similar shortages back in 2018. However, at the time, the discontinued use of intravenous morphine in two emergency departments due to shortages didn't cause significant differences in patients' mean final pain scores when compared to pain scores for those administered the drug. The same study found that discontinuing morphine injections reduced overall opioid use among patients, and increased the use of non-opioid pain management instead.


hydroxychloroquine bottle for coronavirus
Shutterstock/Simone Hogan

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly reduced the availability of hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and malaria—and which has been recently rejected as a treatment for coronavirus. While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) added 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to the national stockpile in March—for "possible use in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or for use in clinical trials"—the medication remains in short supply, according to the FDA. And if you want to know how coronavirus may be treated in the future, Expect a COVID-19 Vaccine By This Date, Says Pentagon Researcher.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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