BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A pharmacy chain in Blount County is one of many local pharmacies and medical facilities impacted by the medical supply chain shortage. Shortages of medical supplies have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report issued by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters.

Blount Discount Pharmacy has several locations around the Blount County area. According to the co-owner Phillip LaFoy, each one has been affected by the medical supply shortage.

“It’s been going on for a while now. It all started, in my opinion, we had Xofluza, a viral medicine, around September whenever there was a big influx of flu coming through. So that was an antiviral medicine that was really difficult to get a hold of,” Pharmacist Hamilton Borden with Blount Discount Pharmacy said.

For months, several hundred pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications have been in short supply and we are starting to see the impact here in East Tennessee.

“Mounjaro, Ozempic, and then that went straight into some antibiotics that were short supply for pediatrics reconstitutables. We couldn’t get Amoxicillin or Cephalexin,” Borden said.

He added that the closure of several manufacturing plants and medication recalls have added to the problem.

“All of it, in my opinion, appears to be manufacturing issues. Whenever we’re talking with the drug reps on the diabetic medicine. They said that it was all a short supply coming from one supplier of the pen needles they were making and going into the medications,” he said.

He added that being a community-based pharmacy gives them the advantage to work with suppliers but they are still not able to get everything they need.

“We’re able to better adapt to what some of the larger competitors are whenever the antibiotic reconstitutes went on backorder, we had agreements with local pediatricians where they were able to compound that,” he explained.

Borden said to be sure to get your medication on time and call your pharmacy ahead of time and make sure they have it in stock or can get it to you before you actually need it. 

Some pharmacies are also able to work with your doctor to find alternatives to the medications you need, but again you need to call them ahead of time so they can make the right accommodations.