PHARMACIES across the UK are experiencing Strep A antibiotic shortages as demand for the life-saving drugs skyrocket.
It comes after it was announced that a sixteenth child has died from the illness, at a primary school in Brighton.
It adds to the total deaths since September, announced by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) last week.
A huge increase in demand for the life-saving medicines since September has left some pharmacists unable to get hold of the drugs, sparking fears children will die.
The Health Secretary has warned there are no long-term supply problems, though he admitted some pharmacists may experience shortages while stock is moved around.
“Suppliers have said to us is they do have good levels of supply, and that is not a concern at the moment,” Steve Barclay said.
What antibiotics are currently out of stock?
Medicine experts have said supply across the country is patchy depending on demand, as some towns have seen more outbreaks of the bug compared to others.
This Sun map shows where outbreaks are currently taking place.
This follows a sharp decline in demand for the medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic, when people were not mixing or seeing GPs.
The Sun revealed last week that UK medicine suppliers have reported shortages of four antibiotics — including one of the first-line options for Strep A — are now in short supply.
- Phenoxymethypenicillin (penicillin V)
Under-18s who become ill should get phenoxymethylpenicillin, or Penicillin V under NHS guidelines.
Supply is “expect to improve next week,” negotiating body the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said on Friday 9 December.
Where might the shortages be?
If your usual pharmacy is unable to dispense your antibiotics try travelling to other towns and villages close by, medicine expert Steve Brownett-Gale from Origin, said.
“If you can’t travel, call around other community pharmacists in your area and discuss the delivery options available or ask a friend or family member to help you pick it up,” he added.
There are many different types of antibiotics that can kill Group A strep.
“Penicillin is commonly the preferred option because it is the cheapest antibiotic that is the least likely to cause antibiotic resistance.
“So, if you are struggling to get hold of the antibiotic your doctor has prescribed, contact them to see if there is a different option instead which may be more readily available in your local area,” he said.
Group A Streptococcus — Streptococcus pyogenes — is a bacteria that can cause mild illness.
This can include sore throats and skin infections, alongside tonsillitis, cellulitis, and scarlet fever, which is flu-like and tends to occur in children – it can be serious if not treated swiftly with antibiotics.
In rare cases, the bacteria can trigger invasive Group Strep A disease, which can prove life-threatening and even fatal.
There has been an increase in cases this year, particularly in children under the age of 10.