It’s never an emergency until you need it. Dealing with medication shortages.

What would you do if the medication you take on a regular basis was suddenly unavailable at any pharmacy? Or, if you must postpone a medical procedure until the right medication is available? These situations are frustrating for the patient and provider, and this is what’s been happening for thousands of people since the pandemic as medication shortages have become more frequent.

According to a study, there were nearly 300 drug shortages in 2022─the highest rate in the past 10 years. The shortages impact all types of medications, from over-the-counter cold and flu products to antibiotics, pain medications, chemotherapy medications and more.1

Inconvenient but not new

While the medication shortages are annoying and inconvenient, they are not new. Typically, about 200 drugs are unavailable in the U.S. at any given time.2 The shortages can be due to increasing demand, manufacturing issues, high costs and labor shortages. If you're lucky, your medications are never on the shortage list. If you do become a victim, here's what you can do to help make sure you get the medication you need.

Be ready. Stay informed. Communicate.

It’s always good to try to refill your medications as soon as they are available. Then if it is out of stock, you can work with your doctor on finding an effective alternative. Make sure you ask your doctor:

  • Is the shortage temporary or long-term? This could mean the difference between finding a new medication or considering a new treatment strategy.
  • If the new medication is covered by your insurance and if there are side effects to be concerned about.
  • To provide a paper prescription, so you check multiple pharmacies to see who has your medication in stock.

Remember, your doctor prescribed your medications to treat your specific injury or illness. If the medications are not available, work with your doctor and/or pharmacist to figure out the right alternative and avoid interruption in your medication therapy.

  1. Salib, Veronica. (2023, March 7). Finding Solutions for Drug Shortages: Short and Long-Term Management. PharmaNews Intelligence. Retrieved on April 28, 2023 from
  2. Nania, Rachel. (2022, December 16). Common Drugs That Are in Short Supply Now. AARP. Retrieved on April 28, 2023 from


S7694_22-7186_enewsletter 2023_C Reviewed 05/12/2023

Elixir Insurance is a Prescription Drug Plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Elixir Insurance depends on contract renewal. For more information, please call our customer service number at 833-684-7267. TTY users call 711. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ATTENTION: If you speak Spanish, language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 833-684-7267 (TTY: 711). ATENCIÓN: si habla Español, los servicios de asistencia lingüística, sin cargo, están disponibles para usted. Llamada 833-684-7267 (TTY: 711).

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Topics: Helpful Tips

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