Pfizer to run out of penicillin this year, and its supplies will be limited for much of 2024: letter

As supply chain issues sweep across the industry, Pfizer is warning about expected supply shortfalls of its penicillin offerings.

After the FDA first reported a nationwide penicillin shortage in April, Pfizer updated its hospital customers on the expected limited supply of its Bicillin prefilled syringes. The Pfizer antibiotic comes in a long-acting form or in a combination of two different penicillin types.

Pfizer attributes the supply hiccup to “complex combination” of factors, including “significant” demand increases and a rise in syphilis infection rates, the company's hospital’s opioids and prefilled syringes director, Kevin Martyn, wrote in the update.

In response, the company has prioritized its manufacturing capacity of long-acting Bicillin to meet the spike in demand. 

As it stands, all doses of the company's combination penicillin syringes are expected to run out during this year’s third quarter. Supply of the long-acting version and its pediatric dosing will diminish by the end of the second quarter.

Out of the six dosage forms Pfizer makes, two combination doses are estimated to be back in stock by 2024’s third quarter and two long-acting forms should be back in by the second quarter of 2024.

The drug is used for a range of bacterial infections, including strep throat, but is the preferred treatment for syphilis.

Back in April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report that syphilis cases jumped nearly 32% from 2020 to 2021 in what could be a reflection of reduced screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Another anti-infective, amoxicillin, is also in short supply, with the liquid form running scarce since last October. The limited supply could be linked to a raw material shortage of more than a dozen drug ingredients that affected the supply of Adderall and other drugs, Bindiya Vakil, CEO of Resilinc, a firm that helps companies across industries combat supply chain issues, said in an interview last November.  

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