Children's Antibiotic Shortage Leaves Parents Scrambling Amid Flu Season

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Children's Antibiotic Shortage Leaves Parents Scrambling Amid Flu Season

Parents struggling to find children's antibiotics amid critical shortage

Parents across Australia are facing a critical shortage of children's liquid antibiotics, leaving many scrambling to find medication for their sick kids. The shortage, primarily affecting Azithromycin, is particularly concerning as it coincides with the start of Australia's flu season, leading to a surge in respiratory illnesses.

Kyanne Hooper, a Sunshine Coast mother, experienced the shortage firsthand when her 16-month-old son Myles fell ill. After visiting multiple pharmacies, she finally found one that could provide the adult version of Azithromycin, which she had to quarter and grind for her son.

"It doesn't taste pleasant no matter how you try to disguise it, and you can't negotiate with a 16-month-old," she said.

Hooper's experience is not unique. Pharmacist James Lester reports daily encounters with families desperately searching for the unavailable medication. He emphasizes the severity of the situation, as Azithromycin is often prescribed for children with chronic lung conditions.

"It's for some of the young children who are often the sickest in the community," he said.

The shortage is particularly challenging for families in regional and rural areas, where access to multiple pharmacies is limited. Erin Collin, a mother from Blackbutt, Queensland, faced this difficulty firsthand when her three-year-old daughter Brydee contracted mycoplasma.

"I've only got one chemist and one GP in my town at Blackbutt," she said. "You feel very helpless as a mother because it's one thing having a sick child, but then it's another when you can't source a medication that's prescribed them."

Even when alternative medications are prescribed, they often prove unavailable. Dr. Cathryn Hester, a Queensland GP, urges families to be patient with their doctors and health professionals as they work to find solutions.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is aware of the shortages and has approved a temporary overseas-registered alternative, although it is not subsidized. The government is also working to build Australia's capacity to manufacture critical medical supplies and maintain stock levels.

However, the immediate concern remains for families struggling to find the medication their children need. As the flu season progresses, the situation is likely to worsen, highlighting the need for urgent action to address the critical shortage of children's antibiotics.