You may have heard rumors that there is a shortage of the opioid pain reliever oxycodone. Or you may have tried to fill your oxycodone prescription only to be told that your pharmacy doesn’t have any and doesn’t know when they will be getting more.
There have been at least two significant recalls of instant release oxycodone in the past few months and the two drug manufacturers involved have completely stopped production of it (as well as a number of other medications) due to quality control issues. Because of its abuse potential, oxycodone is highly regulated and the government only allows each manufacturer to make a specified amount each year. Therefore, other manufacturers cannot just increase their production to make up for the two companies who have stopped production.
The shortage seems to affect some parts of the country worse than others, but as the shortage continues the number of areas affected are growing. It largely depends on which manufacturer pharmacies get their supplies from and how much that manufacturer has left. No one seems to really know when the shortage will be over, although I’ve seen guesses ranging from a week to several months. If I were betting, I’d lean toward the several months estimate since the manufacturers who have shut down have not given any indication of when they might start production again.
If you are currently taking oxycodone, check with your pharmacist to see if your dosage is one that has been affected by the shortage and whether the shortage is expected to impact your area. If so, I’d suggest talking with your doctor ahead of time about what other options you might have if the shortage continues much longer. You don’t want to find yourself out of medication and unable to get more.
Additional note: Check with your doctor and pharmacy about liquid oxycodone. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of it and it might be a good alternative until the shortage is over.
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Karen is the Co-Founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association. She wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Pain Management.