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Coronavirus could cause a shortage of common medications in the US

Many antibiotics are in danger of running low because they contain ingredients that come from China.

SAN ANTONIO — The coronavirus outbreak is wreaking havoc on the stock market and the travel industry, and core ingredients from common drugs could be next.

The U.S. is partially reliant on China for the raw ingredients that go into roughly 370 drugs that are sold in the U.S. and are deemed "essential" by the World Health Organization. Only 21% of manufacturing plants making those ingredients for those drugs are located in the U.S., with 15% located in China and 64% in other countries. 

Three drugs that are at high risk of running short in the U.S. are common antibiotics including amoxicillin, doxycycline, penicillin—90% of these drugs' core components come directly from China. 

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"If they are out of stock or running out, a second choice would be macrolides, and some of the examples of that would be azithromycin and azithromycin, like a Z-pak," said Eileen Pierce, a staff pharmacist at Champs Pharmacy. 

She says stocking up on those drugs just doesn't make sense, "because your body starts building resistance to these bugs that these antibiotics are trained to treat."

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Local health systems are keeping an eye on the coronavirus and on their medical supplies. In a statement, University Health System said, "Awareness is heightened due to COVID-19 and also because we are still in the midst of a severe flu season. We are okay on our inventory of medical supplies...and we are managing that inventory appropriately."

CHRISTUS Health told us, "Just like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, we are closely monitoring the situation...Just like we do every day, we continue to closely watch our demand and supply at all of our hospitals and at this time we have seen no major change."