A penicillin shortage should be a month away

Czech doctors and patients are worried about a shortage of penicillin, which doctors prescribe for bacterial infections such as angina. It is now unavailable in some pharmacies, and where it is, there is a risk that it will soon run out. Supplies of the drug are due to resume at the end of November.

The Czech Pharmacy Chamber and the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) confirmed the information about the drug shortage. “Pharmacies cannot order penicillin preparations for patients because there is currently no medicine with this active ingredient in the distribution chain, except for syrups for children,” Michaela Bažantová, a spokeswoman for the chamber, said.

“The patient has to agree with the doctor, who will prescribe another medicine, but it may not be as suitable. Alternatively, the pharmacist can send the patient to a pharmacy where they have stocks,” Bažantová said.

She noted that the pharmacist could not dispense the replacement medicine for these antibiotics. A doctor must prescribe it. “Pharmacists cannot mix individual penicillin preparations, unlike, for example, framycetin ointments. There is no raw material from which to prepare it,” she added.

“There have been outages for most of the medicines with the active ingredient phenoxymethylpenicillin and benzathine-phenoxymethylpenicillin. Mostly due to problems in production, for capacity and distribution reasons, but also due to stock-outs due to outages of competing products,” SÚKL spokeswoman Klára Brunclíková told Právo.

Ludmila Bezdíčková, a general practitioner and member of the Society of General Medicine committee, said there are quality drugs that can temporarily replace penicillin.

Doctors most often prescribe penicillin for bacterial tonsillitis, streptococcal strep throat, and so-called rosacea, a skin disease also caused by streptococcal bacteria. It is popular with doctors precisely because it has minimal side effects and the bacteria are not resistant to it.