If one day you realized that finding the usual medicine in nearby pharmacies becomes more and more difficult, if not impossible, it is likely that your medicine was discontinued. The company may simply stop producing a specific drug, or discontinue some of its forms and dosages. However, it rarely occurs suddenly: with regard to life-supporting and life-sustaining drugs, companies are required to notify the FDA in 6 months (or as soon as possible) before discontinuing a product. Thus, a list of drugs to be discontinued in the near future is available in public access on the official FDA website.

Although such medications may play an important role in the patients’ lives, the situation rarely becomes hopeless or really frustrating. Generally, the market offers several alternatives, which may include the same drug under a different brand name. Don’t tie yourself in a knot, they are not that hard to find: on a website like Apppharma.com there is an embedded search engine that will return results for your query with the old name of the drug offering the meds with identical composition and full interchangeability. On the other hand, buyers can turn to compounding pharmacies if the market cannot satisfy their needs. Why are the drugs discontinued and what should one do when a needed medication becomes more difficult to obtain? Read more for some facts and suggestions on discontinued drug.

Why are the drugs discontinued?

The most common reason for drug discontinuation is poor economic viability, the product not bringing enough profit for the company. This can happen when raw materials become more expensive, or demand declines because of cheaper alternatives or newer and more effective drugs. Government agencies cannot influence pharmaceutical companies by forcing them to supply drugs that they don’t want to produce. Although the FDA seeks to prevent potential drug shortages by addressing the underlying causes of such, some factors are outside its reach.

Potential harm that may be caused by the drug, identified already after its approval, is another — although rare — reason why a drug may be suddenly withdrawn from the market. Unfortunately, there are cases when serious health threats posed by a medicine were discovered after thousands and even millions of customers have used the product. In this case the drug disappears from the pharmacies in less than no time.

Bextra and Vioxx, two analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs which were prescribed for arthritis and a number of other conditions, were withdrawn four years after approval, have being used by about 20,000 Americans. Their use was associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, as well as rare, potentially fatal skin reaction. Although Accutane, manufactured by Roche from 1982 to 2009, was also associated with a number of dangerous side effects, the drug used for acne treatment was discontinued only after 27 years because cheaper counterparts became available.

Choosing alternatives for discontinued drugs

If the medicine you rely on is disappearing from the market, the easiest solution will be discussing the possible alternatives with your doctor. It will be useful to do your own research as well, which will allow you to take a more active part in the discussion. Check services such as My Canadian Pharmacy to find similar drugs and compare prices for different products. The same medicine may be sold under a different brand, or another drug with a similar effect may be suitable for treating your condition. Rimonabant, an appetite suppressant formerly popular in the USA, Europe and India, was withdrawn in 2008 due to depression which it caused in long-term users. However, it had many strong alternatives like PhenQ and oleoylethanolamide that could provide similar results.

Use compounding pharmacy service

Compounding pharmacies supply approximately 3% of all US drugs. If the market cannot meet the patient’s needs for one reason or another, with a prescription, such pharmacies are able to produce the necessary medicine using special equipment. For instance, a compounding pharmacy may produce a low-dosage drug for children when the commercially available medication comes only in dosages intended for adults. If the patient is allergic to one of the minor drug ingredients, such as lactose, a pharmacist will exclude it from the composition. It is against the law to copy a drug completely if it is currently available on the market, however, when there is a shortage, or the manufacturer has officially discontinued the medicine due to unprofitability, this option is available with a prescription from your physician. Compounding pharmacies are generally considered safe and are controlled by several health agencies.

Check your drug cost coverage

If your insurance includes drug cost coverage, you will probably want a new drug included in the formulary. A formulary is a list of drugs which cost will be covered by insurance. Ask your insurance agent about the conditions under which you can purchase alternative medicines, including those you can get from a compounding pharmacy.

Finally, keep an eye out, as your tried-and-true medication may return to the market. Either way, there is no reason to be frustrated about drug shortage or discontinuation, as in most cases, your doctor will offer an alternative treatment that even might work better than your previous choice.

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