Antacids in short supply amid pandemic

Antacid drugs like Tums, Pepcid and its generic version, famotidine, are facing shortages across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The New York Times reported. 

Studies in the spring indicated that antacids might be able to treat COVID-19 symptoms, causing people to stock up on the over-the-counter drugs, according to the Times.

Some COVID-19 patients at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y., were treated with intravenous famotidine as part of a clinical trial, the Times reported. The trial ended in May, and no conclusions on the drugs' efficacy were made. In June, the Infectious Diseases Society of America recommended against using famotidine for COVID-19 unless in a clinical trial because of a lack of data. 

Another wave of buying happened when President Donald Trump was given famotidine as part of his COVID-19 treatment in October, according to the Times

More patients have been reporting symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux during the pandemic, physicians say. Lauren Bleich, MD, a gastroenterologist in Acton, Mass., told the Times she has seen a 25 percent increase in patients reporting such symptoms.

"I think part of it is the stress of everything going on in the world," she said.

It could also be because more people are working from home, their dietary habits have changed. 

"We’re more lax than we used to be with alcohol or sweets or our comfort food. And then there’s the lack of activity or exercise. Weight gain definitely contributes to heartburn and acid reflux," Dr. Bleich told the Times

In April, the FDA asked drugmakers to stop selling all forms of the heartburn drug ranitidine, sold under the brand name Zantac, after finding "unacceptable levels" of a possible carcinogen can develop in the products over time. 

GlaxoSmithKline told the Times it is "aware that there may be pockets of supply constraints," for Tums. Johnson & Johnson, which makes Pepcid, said "we understand supply may still be out of stock in some stores and online,” according to the Times

Read the full article here.


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