Company Creates Special Toll Free Number, Web Page to Expedite Ordering Process
PHOENIX, Ariz. (Sept. 23, 2009): To offset a nationwide shortage in supplies of an ointment that protects newborn infants from contracting chlamydia and gonorrhea at birth, The Apothecary Shops is producing between 3000 and 4000 single-dose tubes a
month of an erythromycin ophthalmic compound for hospitals in Arizona and across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed a shortage of erythromycin ophthalmic ointment, the only product available in the United States recommended for protection against the diseases in infants.
Moments after birth, the ointment is applied to a baby’s eyes. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommend using erythromycin, which is required in most states. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports on its website that the USPSTF said that “there is good evidence that blindness due to gonococcal opthalmia neonatorum has become rare in the United States since the implementation of universal preventive medication of newborns.”
The Apothecary Shops has increased staffing in its brand new state-of-the-art compounding lab to nearly 10 highly trained lab technicians to produce the ophthalmic compound to meet the needs of hospitals.
A special toll free number and web site have been created to expedite the ordering process: 877-393- 6468 or www.infanteye.com.
“We can’t manufacture erythromycin, but we can produce a compound that provides the protection the babies need,” said Jim Rehovsky, R.Ph., National Director, Ophthalmology at Phoenix-based The Apothecary Shops. “It’s a critically important preventative. Hospitals in Arizona use at least 600 tubes a month.”
According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the shortage developed following a change in manufacturers when Fera Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to the pharmaceutical from Fougara & Co.
Fera officials estimate the ointment will be available in 2010. Two other manufacturers, Bausch & Lomb and Ocusoft, are experiencing product shortages due to increased demand, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (AHSP).
There are no commercially available alternatives.
“We are working in shifts beginning at 4 a.m. to meet the demand and have increased the size of our staff to handle the production,” Rehovsky said.
About The Apothecary Shops
The Apothecary Shops is the foremost chain of independent full-service pharmacies with specialties in veterinary medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, fertility, infectious disease, pain management, women’s health, transplant, compounding and sports health. A National Specialty Pharmacy, The Apothecary Shops has provided individualized care and support to patients since 1996. The clinical pharmacists and staff members are experts in managing complex disease states and providing compassionate care. The Apothecary Shops offer a nationwide specialty mail-order service to complement 14 physical practices. For more information, visit www.theapothecaryshop.com.