Pfizer Warns Of Potential Pediatric Antibiotic Shortage Amid Surge In Syphilis Infections

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      POLAND - 2023/03/07: In this photo illustration a Pfizer logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) cautions about potential supply shortages for pediatric Bicillin L-A, an antibiotic for syphilis treatment, by the end of June. 

The company has prioritized the production of adult versions due to a surge in syphilis infections in that population. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 10: The Pfizer company logo is displayed as traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on April 10, 2023, in New York City. The stock market opened low after coming off an up and down week that ended with a report from the Labor Department that showed the unemployment rate down to 3.5% and the U.S. economy adding 236,000 jobs in March. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“Pfizer expects to run out of some antibiotic supply: Bicillin L-A and Bicillin C-R, may run out by the end of this month due to a spike in syphilis rates,” said Dr. Michelle Wright, an assistant professor at University of Texas, Austin.


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Citing Pfizer’s email, Reuters noted that the pediatric formulations of the antibiotic are not widely used.

Pfizer’s penicillin products have been experiencing shortages since April. 

In addition, Bicillin C-R, another penicillin product used for upper respiratory tract infections, is expected to face supply depletion in the third quarter. 

This warning from Pfizer comes amidst an ongoing shortage of the widely used antibiotic amoxicillin since October.

The U.K. Health Security Agency data released last week shows that diagnoses of gonorrhea and syphilis have surged in the last year. 

Shockingly, gonorrhea rates are the highest since records began in 1918.

“Pfizer, the manufacturer for Bicillin, claims supply shortage is due to increased demand. We are in the midst of a major resurgence of syphilis, esp congenital syphilis. Like with MPX, we are once again at the whim of pharma companies for critical communicable disease treatments,” said one Twitter in concern of the shortage.

Gonorrhea diagnoses increased to 82,592 in 2022, up 50.3% compared to 2021 (54,961) and 16.1% compared to 2019.

Infectious syphilis diagnoses increased to 8,692 in 2022, up 15.2% compared to 2021 (7,543) and 8.1% compared to 2019 – this is the largest annual number since 1948.


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In 2022, there were over 400 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections made each day among young people.

The FDA is actively seeking new suppliers to address the shortages of methotrexate, a widely used cancer drug in short supply since March. 

Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Jessi Rexroad Shull



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