According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), 2023 was the worst year for medication shortages in about a decade, with hundreds of medications in low supply, such as common medications like Adderall, Lidocaine, and Amoxicillin.

Why are some medications occasionally unavailable?

Despite pharmacists’ best efforts to ensure that medications are readily available, their ability to stock medications can change from day to day. Shortages can be caused by high demand (as is often the case with popular weight loss medications), manufacturing issues or slowdowns, quality control measures, or discontinuations. Even natural disasters or large weather events can temporarily interrupt medication supply.

What to do if medication is in short supply?

When a medication is out of stock, there are a few things to try:

  • Check the national drug shortage list. The FDA and the ASHP both track drug availability and can be checked to prepare for shortages.
  • Fill prescriptions as soon as possible in case there is a delay, or an alternative is needed.
  • Consider other options. A pharmacist or doctor may be able to recommend other medications that will provide the same health benefits.
  • Check other pharmacies. One pharmacy location may not have a medication while another in may, or another in-network pharmacy may have more supply.
  • Look online for coupon or payment programs that may have a supply.

For BHT members with a Premera medical plan, Business Health Trust (BHT) offers a free program called Rx Savings Solutions, a benefit that assists members to find the lowest-price options for prescription drugs. Find out more about this perk of BHT membership.