WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — An ongoing shortage of prescription drugs across the United States is having an impact on local pharmacies in Wichita Falls.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 121 prescription drugs are currently experiencing a shortage, including some used regularly to treat common infections.

In all likelihood, Wichita Falls residents who have visited a local pharmacy in recent weeks have been told their medication is on backorder, as doctors and pharmacists alike are beginning to feel the effects of the nationwide shortages pile up.

Chuck Weaver, R.Ph., is Trott’s Call Field Drug’s pharmacist, and he said he’s had to turn patients away on a daily basis due to the shortages.

“There’s been a lot of things in a lot of different categories that have been shorted and it’s quite an impact on our patients,” Weaver said. “It’s very concerning. As the supply goes down, it’s been difficult getting them then, so we’re not getting in as many units as we need.”

Pharmacists aren’t the only ones with worry. Local doctors, like MSU Texas’ Medical Director, Dr. Keith Willamson, are feeling the full weight of these shortages.

“The cause of concern from my perspective as kind of the end of the chain for using many of these medicines on my patients is some of these things are very common, I just can’t get,” Dr. Williamson said. “They’ve not complicated medicines, they’re just unavailable right at this time.”

The most basic, elementary medications are all on backorder as pharmaceutical companies try to increase their manufacturing capabilities to meet the demand.

“It’s very concerning that plain old amoxicillin,” Dr. Williamson said. “That seems to be in short supply. Now I have written it a couple of times in the last few weeks and not had any trouble that I am aware of getting it filled but that’s alarming because that’s a very basic, good medicine.”

Local anesthetics are hard to find as well, according to Dr. Williamson.

“We’re currently keeping bottles on hand that are a month out of date,” Dr. Williamson said. “They’re fine, but we can’t get that. We’ve ordered it and asked for it and we can’t get it.”

The supply shortages have no real end point in sight, and the longer it goes on, the emptier those pharmacy shelves become.

“It seems like there’s a different one all the time,” Weaver said. “There’s different antibiotics, breathing medications, diabetic medications, injectables, orals, seems like it’s a little bit of everything.”

Although medical supply shortages aren’t a novel concept, the current shortage has very distinct qualities that separate it from past shortages.

“I would say this is not a new thing entirely,” Dr. Williamson said. “It’s a little bit new in that there’s a bunch of medicines going short right now. It’s unusual that we have so many different categories of pharmaceuticals that we can’t get right now, but it’s not a new phenomenon.”

A myriad of factors are currently contributing to the nationwide shortages of pharmaceuticals, but Weaver and Dr. Williamson agree, it’s hard to pinpoint a single factor as the primary cause.

“There’s so many potential economic and societal reasons it could happen,” Dr. Williamson said.

“So many things with so many different industries,” Weaver said. “So it’s some more of the supply chain issues.”

But despite their supply concerns, local pharmacies are doing all they can to get Wichita Falls residents their medication.

“Sometimes we’ll transfer to another pharmacy and sometimes we can borrow back and forth from other pharmacies,” Weaver said. “Depending on the medication and the indication, sometimes there’s another drug that will suffice to take care of the patient.”

Dr. Williamson said one way you can avoid being stuck without medication is to check other pharmacies in the area.

“As patients, be aware that you’re not obligated to go to a particular pharmacy,” Dr. Williamson said. “If one pharmacy doesn’t have it, feel free to shop around, and there’s a number of apps out there to help you find good prices.”

Weaver encourages residents to be proactive in notifying their pharmacy of the need for a refill by giving as much of a heads-up to their pharmacist as possible.

“Our technicians do a great job of checking what their supply is during the day,” Weaver said. “The more leeway we have before somebody needs it, the better.”

Weaver said he spoke to a pharmaceutical representative in Trott’s earlier in the week, and they told him they’re also taking steps to combat these shortages. One way they do that is by rotating the dosages of certain medications they produce to allow for more individual pills at one single dosage to be produced.

“They were going to ramp up certain strengths at certain times to try to get through it so they wouldn’t be out of everything at once,” Weaver said. “So that occurs too.”

Beyond that, however, it looks like residents of Wichita Falls will have to join the rest of the country in waiting for these shortages to be resolved because they’re not going away any time soon.

“There are some things that will get better,” Dr. Williamson said. “Doctors will take care of you no matter what the tools we have to use are, but it is a hard time in particular right now.”