AHF: Key Syphilis Medication in Short Supply Despite Increase in Infections

If necessary Pfizer medication Bicillin L-A is not available,
pregnant women with syphilis would be at particular risk of passing
infection to newborns

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases continue to rise
across the U.S., biopharmaceutical giant Pfizer
. recently issued alerts to health agencies that a manufacturing
delay of Bicillin L-A, the only brand of penicillin recommended to treat
syphilis in pregnant women, will cause temporary shortages of the
injectable medication, according to a Los Angeles Daily News article
on the shortage. In publicly released statements, Pfizer says it is
allocating shipments to last through the end of the month and will ship
only 30% of normal monthly demand into the supply chain to help prevent
a stock-out.

“With syphilis on the rise nationwide, our medical providers are
struggling to have enough supply to provide the necessary treatment to
infected patients. The allocations by Pfizer are not sufficient to meet
growing demand,” said Scott Carruthers, Senior Manager and Chief
Pharmacy Officer for AHF and the AHF Pharmacy network. “We hope this
shortage will be as temporary as Pfizer suggests; alternative therapies
are less effective in most cases due to patient adherence issues and
tend not to curtail the disease as quickly as injection. This shortage
particularly places pregnant women at risk, as Bicillin L-A is the only
medical treatment recommended for pregnant women with syphilis and
Pfizer has the exclusive patent on the medication.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, the annual
number of reported syphilis cases among women more
than doubled
from 248 cases to 594 from 2012 to 2014. Reported cases
of congenital syphilis, which occurs when a woman transmits the
infection to her fetus during pregnancy, tripled during the same time
period. The $122.5 billion state budget approved last week by California
lawmakers included
$5 million for efforts by the Department of Public Health to support
sexually transmitted disease prevention efforts.

According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates,
there are 20 million new STD infections each year in the United States,
costing the healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical
costs. The agency also reports more than 110 million current cases of
sexually transmitted infections in U.S. men and women.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over
638,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn
more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org,
find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth
and follow us @aidshealthcare
on Twitter and Instagram.


AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea, Senior Director,
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Associate Director of Communications
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