With anxiety about the U.S. drug supply running high these days, drugmakers have been keeping a close eye on demand spikes. Now, Johnson & Johnson, maker of ubiquitous painkiller Tylenol, is reporting shortages in certain markets as consumers stock their medicine chests.
J&J is reporting a “temporary” scarcity of Tylenol after heightened demand for the over-the-counter drug has strained supply, the drugmaker said in a statement.
The shortage is limited to specific regions, and J&J says it’s speeding up production to meet the increase demand. J&J is working with retailers to “encourage” purchasing limits and is working to keep supplies running to consumers and hospitals.
“We are committed to maintaining our increased production, including running lines up to 24/7 to maximize supply,” J&J said in a statement.
The spot shortages of Tylenol come as U.S. consumers have focused in on the global pharmaceutical supply chain’s ability to keep up with increased demand amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told Fox News the administration has seen spot shortages of certain medications during the crisis but hasn’t observed state actors like China, a major producer of global active pharmaceutical ingredients, deliberately affecting U.S. supply.
Hahn did highlight the need for increased “redundancy” in the supply chain to help shore up patient access in the event of heightened and sustained demand for certain drugs.
Late last month, J&J began running its Tylenol manufacturing at top speed after the drugmaker saw between two and four times the normal amount of demand for the OTC brand, Reuters reported.
Last week, the FDA reported shortages of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, antimalarial meds that have been targeted by President Donald Trump and others as front-runners for a possible COVID-19 therapeutic.
Despite a “significant surge in demand,” the FDA said manufacturers are working to ramp up production of the drugs to supply ongoing clinical trials as well as fill prescriptions for existing patients. The FDA’s updated drug shortages list as of Monday listed 148 products across the pharmaceutical spectrum.
Other approved drugs and investigational candidates––including Gilead Sciences’ therapeutic hopeful remdesivir––have neared shortages as the push for a COVID-19 therapeutic continues. Earlier this week, Gilead said it had stepped up production of remdesivir to meet heightened demand, pledging to donate 1.5 million doses of the drug ready or nearly ready for shipment.