Are You One of the 14 Million Living in a Pharmacy Desert?

Scenario this winter

All the pharmacies have shut down or are on strike within a 2-hour radius of your home. Your daughter is in the beginning states of a full-blown asthma attack. You reach for her inhaler and find it empty, and no extra cartridges are to be found. The carton of nebulizer solution is also empty. Your child is wheezing and in panic mode. You try to console and calm her down, knowing anxiety will make symptoms worse. Frantic, you call her doctor. They advise going to the ER, which is almost as far away as the nearest pharmacy. Hospitals and clinics are overrun with patients with influenza, COVID, and a new virus that hasn’t yet been identified. Desperate, you call around to clinics, trying to find inhalers and there are none to be found.

You knew she was running low on her medication-you thought you had more time; it was on your To Do List. You should have planned better.

Don’t get caught off guard when it comes to your children’s health.

Pharmacy deserts coming to a city near you

The combined closing of over 1500 pharmacies over the past 2 years (Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid) and the gap these have left in access to medication is massive. Mail order and online pharmacies are filling the gap for chronic medications, however acute illnesses, pain medications and antibiotics are still prescribed and filled on the local level.

Pharmacies are shuttering their doors due to theft, finances, and widespread strikes. Supply chains in medications, food and everyday necessities are projected to be severely disrupted. Some medications may completely disappear altogether. We don’t make our many of our own medications in the states, so we are massively dependent upon China and India for most of our pharmaceuticals.

According to an independent study done September 2021, by Goodrx Health, 40 % of counties (representing over 41 million people) in the US are pharmacy deserts,-it takes over 15 minutes to drive to nearest pharmacy. South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, and Kansas have the largest number of counties that lack sufficient access to a local pharmacy. In addition, the white paper reveals that 80% of counties lack adequate healthcare infrastructure. Over a third of the U.S. population lives in a county where there is less than adequate access to pharmacies, primary care providers, hospitals, trauma centers, and/or low-cost health centers.

Like it or not, this is the new world we find ourselves in. This post COVID, world war 3, supply chain disruption, and medication shortages world. Add the possibility of nuclear war on the horizon. And potential food shortages. If this isn’t enough, widespread food poisonings have been reported, from contaminated onions, pork products, beef and poultry meatballs, burritos and more. (Find the complete up to date list from the FDA and bookmark this page for reference).  It’s enough to overwhelm even the most organized and prepared individual.

We will need to pull all our resources, keep a cool head, and focus on priorities.

2 is 1 and 1 is none. This can mean 2 things. First- if you are using up the product (such as an inhaler cartridge), and you don’t have an extra one in for the next time it is needed, you are now down to none. Another meaning-if one cartridge fails or malfunctions and you don’t have a backup, you are down to none-. Have extra lifesaving medicine or devices on hand.

As stated above, online and mail order pharmacies can fill the gap- but not for acute medications. And because of supply chain disruptions- or altogether shutdowns- you may be forced into seeking help at the nearest hospital or walk in clinic. Which is the very last place you want to be. Is your medicine chest stocked with supplies needed for all emergencies? Check out Jase Case and Jase Daily for your emergency stock of medications.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

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We Aren’t On the Brink-We Are Here

The tsunami of strikes, hospitals and clinics closing departments- or shuttering their doors altogether-along with drug and medical supply shortages is the strongest indicator that our health care system is in total collapse.

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Hospitals

  • York (Maine) Hospital is closing its birthing center by the end of the month. Hospital officials noted that the decision to do so is the result of a decline in births and a shortage of workers.
  • West Des Moines, Iowa-based MercyOne will shutter its Albert Lea clinic on Dec. 31, eliminating its only facility in the state of Minnesota.
  • Inglewood, Calif.-based Centinela Hospital Medical Center is ending maternal child health services on Oct. 25 amid continued fallout over the death of a patient earlier this year.
  • According to Beckers Hospitals Reviews, 18 strikes by healthcare workers have taken place since September 26.
  • In addition, on October 9th a 5-day strike of 1,500 healthcare workers at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood walked off the job and picketed outside while nonunion nurses and staff were brought in to keep the hospital open, according to union organizers. This strike is following on the heels of the recent
  • Kaiser Permanente 3 days strike of over 75,000 healthcare workers- the largest healthcare worker strike in history just took place.

To not be left out, pharmacies are experiencing strikes.

  • While the Kaiser Permanente strike was taking place, Kaiser pharmacists in western Washington and Oregon were also on strike.
  • Walgreens and CVS pharmacy, two of the largest drugstore chains pharmacists walked out for 3 days (October 9-11).
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Longer response times for EMS

Do you or someone you know have a defibrillator and know how to use it? Do you and those around you know trauma first aid? Do you have a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and when traveling?

Earlier this week, I was traveling along a very rural stretch of highway and came across a car that had flipped over and landed in a ditch. The passenger, a woman, was lying on the ground next to the car. This accident had just happened. Luckily, a state trooper had arrived. There were other motorists that had stopped to help. No ambulance in sight. Since there was already help at the scene I did not stop. If I had arrived 10 minutes earlier, I would have been the first responder.

Are you ready for such an emergency?

The Emperor has no clothes

Blind conformity, vanity and pride sums up the Hans Christian Anderson story of the little boy who dared speak the truth. Speaking the truth can be scary but is also necessary in times such as this.

We are now in a new and troubling world that isn’t going back to “normal” anytime soon. It is imperative that you do not become or remain a zombie. A zombie is “a person who is or appears to be lifeless, apathetic, or totally lacking in independent judgment.” The time is now to shed the zombie suit-the safe facade and see the world for what it really is.

Use social media wisely

I attribute the consumption of social media for a large part of producing zombies.

If you are on social media, use it to help solve problems. Use it to become aware of local news, events, and community building. Don’t let yourself become paralyzed and feed into the narrative. Become a producer, not a consumer. When you do consume, make wise decisions, don’t feed into the emotional rhetoric.

Focus on solutions, not media hype. Look ahead to the future and how you can mitigate disaster  in your home and for those in your community.

We can become overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world, let alone national and local collapses of our health care system. As this collapse intensifies and becomes more real, with people unable to access healthcare in a timely manner, as supply chains tighten their grip on availability of life saving drugs, it will be up to each individual and community to pool their resources to learn new skills, stock supplies, and teach every able-bodied individual how to manage emergencies.

In other words, be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It’s up to all of us.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

Recent Posts

Keeping you informed and safe.

Join Our Newsletter

Our mission is to help you be more medically prepared. Join our newsletter and follow us on social media for health and safety tips each week!

Pharmacy Techs Report Massive Drug Shortages

A highly concerning survey conducted by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, who grants a Supply Chain and Inventory Management for certification, has stated that nearly 96% of respondents report the pharmacy they work for faces drug shortages.

Established in 1995, the PTCB became the first certification organization for pharmacy technicians. PTCB is the only nonprofit pharmacy credentialing organization in the US. They have established patient safety and best practices, ensuring their certification program provides the most widely accepted credentials for pharmacy technicians across the country.

Drugs the survey respondents reported shortages on were:

  • Chemotherapy drugs (See Whitehouse.gov statement below)
  • ADHD medications
  • Local anesthetics, such as lidocaine,
  • Weight loss and diabetic medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy
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No end in sight for chemotherapy drugs shortages according to the Biden-Harris administration.

According to the Whitehouse.gov website, ongoing shortages of chemotherapy drugs continue to plague our nation.

The White House goes on to state that there is a shortage of 15 cancer drugs due to manufacturing and supply chain issues. Three of the most widely used generic drugs-methotrexate, carboplatin, and cisplatin- have been used for decades for cancer treatment. Because of these supply issues and delays, serious impacts on patient care have occurred.

Approximately 400,000 patients per month receive cancer treatments. Healthcare systems, the FDA, and manufacturers are working together to ensure that these patients receive their treatments. The Whitehouse also states, “The FDA continues to work with drug manufacturers and healthcare providers to restore access to these cancer treatments and other medications that are currently in short supply.”  However, no stable and solid solution is in place for these shortages- now or in the future.

As pharmacists scramble to find alternative drugs for their patients, there seems to be no end in sight.

Even our own government, cannot tackle this massive drug shortage. It’s time to take matters and responsibility into your own hands for the health of you and your family.

A brief survey over at Drugs.com reveals the following shortages:

  • Epinephrine 0.1mg injection- (other strengths available)
  • Doxycycline oral suspension-Lupin, the manufacturer has given no reason or estimated time frame for resupply.
  • Penicillin G Benzathine / Penicillin G Procaine- shortage due to demand
  • Nystatin Topical Powder- insufficient supply for usual ordering
  • Duloxetine Delayed Release Sprinkle Capsules-Manufacturer has no estimate when product may be available.

Drug shortages are a national security threat

Earlier this year, a Homeland Security briefing and testimony report from October 2019 brought to attention underlying factors responsible for drug shortages. Citing up to 80-90 percent of drugs manufactured overseas along with supply chain disruptions and the current geopolitical landscape,

Senator Gary Peters, a Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs states,” “Taken together, these underlying causes not only present serious concerns about providing adequate care to patients, but they also represent serious national security threats.”

As WW3 seems to be more likely each day that passes, our dependence on lifesaving drugs and medical supplies is in the crosshairs. Being prepared now is more important than ever.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

Recent Posts

Keeping you informed and safe.

Join Our Newsletter

Our mission is to help you be more medically prepared. Join our newsletter and follow us on social media for health and safety tips each week!

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