Why is there a shortage of Clarithromycin?

May 23, 2024 | General, Generics, WaveData News, WaveData Updates

Dr. Leyla Hannbeck, Chief Executive of the Independent Pharmacies Association, has reported that pharmacies are completely out of stock of Clarithromycin. This antibiotic is used to treat children with whooping cough and pharmacies are now having to turn patients away or ask doctors to prescribe alternative antibiotics.

Charles Joynson, WaveData MD, takes a look at the long-term price track of the two most commonly used packs of Clarithromycin tablets. It looks as if the cause of the shortage has been a long-term reduction in price, which has reached a point at which manufacturers can no longer make any profit out of the product and have consequently withdrawn.

At launch these two generic packs were very profitable with the 500mg at over £15 and the 250mg at over £8. However, over the last 24 years market competition and reducing drug tariffs have driven prices down to levels at which manufacturers have started to withdraw.

The lowest prices for these packs were seen in April 2021 at £0.68 for the 250mg 14 pack and £1.29 in December 2021 for the 500mg 14 pack. Since then prices have risen, reaching peaks in March 2023 of £4.89p for the 250mg 14 pack and £9.53 for the 500mg 14 pack.

Additional to these long-term price declines, price bounces, when the price rises to a peak for a short time before declining again, have occurred three times for the 250mg pack and twice for the 500mg, with gaps of either 5 or 10 years between each peak. This suggests there is a pattern with the risk of shortages increasing every 5 years. If this continues we can expect the next shortage risk to occur in 2029.



Clarithromycin Tabs 250mg Pricing History

Clarithromycin Tabs 500mg Pricing History

Clarithromycin Tabs 500mg Pricing History

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