MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Just in time for the start of tick season, news of a shortage of an antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease has put numerous pharmacies on alert.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks. About 1,000 Minnesotans contract the disease each year.
The highest risk is found from the north Metro to Duluth, west into central Minnesota, south to Iowa and along the Mississippi River.
The best treatment is said to be Doxycycline, a common antibiotic, which fights the disease and infections that can come along with it.
Abbott Northwestern Infectious Disease Physician, Dr. Frank Rhame says, "Cefuroxime or Amoxicillin are fine, but when you have Lyme disease it's often that anaplasmosis or lukeosis goes along with it. They are often dual infections. So we really like to use Doxycycline because of those three drugs I mentioned, it's the only one that is effective against those other two."
The problem is that Doxycycline is currently on the Food and Drug Administration's drug shortage list.
Pharmacies have the drug in stock, but prices have sky-rocketed. While Abbott Northwestern Pharmacy staff say the drug price has increased 1,000 percent, Fairview Health Services reports a price increase from $0.08 per pill to more than $3 for the same pill.
According to Dr. Rhame and the Minnesota Department of Health, the start of tick season is later than normal due to the weather.
With the drug shortage, the MDH says prevention is all the more important. They recommend using a bug repellant with Deet or Permethrin to keep ticks away when headed into a wooded area.