October 05, 2017 06:24 PM
A St. Paul woman wonders why she hasn't been able to get a straight answer when it comes to the reason behind a shortage of the medicine she said she counts on to survive.
Judith Hazen had tried a dozen other high blood pressure medicines that either caused her blood pressure to skyrocket, or made her eyes and throat to swell up. Atenolol is the only drug to which she has not had an adverse reaction.
But a couple of months ago, her pharmacy said it could not fill her prescription of Atenolol because of a shortage.
"I have seriously high blood pressure," she said. "I've trusted my life with this medication! I've been taking it for 20 years!
"How you can run out of the materials to make this medication? It's been around forever! How can you run out of those ingredients?"
University of Minnesota pharmaceutical economics professor Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer said there are a handful of companies actively making and selling Atenolol.
Approximately two months ago, most of them notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that they couldn't get their hands on the active ingredient used to make the drug.
But Schondelmeyer said not all of them.
"One of the companies didn't have that problem, and didn't notify the FDA of that," he said. "But (instead) they notified the FDA that they were experiencing an increase in demand.
"The price went up twice before July 31 - just before the shortages got reported. So that's a bit fishy.
"Why would suddenly four or five companies not be able to get the active ingredient to make the product? The one company - who still is able to make and sell the product in the marketplace - triples its price. What's going on? How did this happen?"
Schondelmeyer said experts are working to find out if there was collusion, or anything illegal going on.
But he said people like Hazen will likely - potentially soon - see the supply of Atenolol go back to where it was.
Not yet though. Several local pharmacies report currently not having the drug in stock.
Schondelmeyer said the price of the generic version went from about $3 to approximately $13 for a bottle of 100 pills. A brand-name version - Tenormin - costs $550 for the same amount of pills.
In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled data on U.S. states and territories regarding hypertension. The following data (ordered by the percentage of adults told they have high blood pressure) is adjusted for age distribution of the population and because the data comes from a survey, the CDC also assigned a level of error.
|State/Territory||Adults Told They Have High Blood Pressure(%)||Adults Told They Do Not Have High Blood Pressure (%)|
|District of Columbia||31.1||68.9|
Brandi Powell Rebecca Omastiak
Updated: October 05, 2017 06:24 PM
Created: October 05, 2017 12:28 PM
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