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As the flu season begins, Billings seeing a scarcity of medicine



Billings, Montana – Montana is now in the middle of flu season, and it’s even scarier this year because many over-the-counter medicines aren’t available because of shortages.

If you go into almost any pharmacy in Billings, you’ll see an alarming sight: shelves that are supposed to hold flu and cold medicine are empty.

It’s scary and comes at a bad time for parents like Kaneesha Beeman who live in the area.

“We see this huge influx with the flu and there’s never any meds when we need them,” Beeman said Monday.

Beeman is also a teacher, so she knows from personal experience how important it is to have medicine at this time of year.

“We need them in school, and I need my kids in school so staying healthy is the most important thing,” Beeman said.

We don’t have many choices right now, which is unfortunate. Kyle Austin, the owner of Pharm406 in Billings, has seen the problem for himself.

“There’s a nationwide shortage caused from delays in manufacturing,” Austin said. “There’s a very big uptick in need across the nation. Probably once an hour we’ll get a phone call for liquid amoxicillin for a kid, and we have to have that conversation with the doctor, ‘hey, this isn’t available, what else is available?’”

Austin thinks this is a big problem that will continue to hurt people during the most important time of the year: flu season.

“They need the medication now, if they get sick,” Austin said. “The FDA has no turnaround time when this will be resolved.”

Austin thinks that the problem is that the U.S. depends too much on foreign manufacturers, and this has made him question the current system.

“What can we do long-term to make sure this doesn’t happen again?” Austin said. “Do we bring manufacturing back to the United States and we make these products here?”

Pharm406 is still doing what it can to offer options for children by using adult capsules and diluting them into smaller doses. Even though the employees have to spend more time on the process now, Austin said it’s worth it.

“If you have a sick kid and we don’t have the antibiotic, then that infection is going to get worse, worse, and worse,” Austin said. “It’s very important that we get this resolved.”

Outside RiverStone Health right after she had taken her son to get his flu shot, Beeman said: “We’re being preventative so that we don’t have to rely on getting meds.”


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