Syphilis rates increased by nearly 80% between 2018 and 2022, and what’s making matters worse is the ongoing shortage of injectable penicillin, the go-to treatment for patients with syphilis. Public health agencies now are recommending providers ration the drug, according to Kaiser Health News. Pregnant patients should be prioritized first because penicillin is considered the safest treatment for the population. Doxycycline would be an appropriate drug for syphilis cases, but it’s discouraged for pregnant moms because of the risk of bone deformities in the unborn child. Pfizer, the manufacturer of injectable penicillin, attributes the recent drug shortage to a dramatic 70% surge in demand.
What’s taking so long? The full production cycle for injectable penicillin can be as long as 6 months, so it will still take some time before the market supply increases. The American Society of Health System Pharmacists estimates that 1 mL syringes may not be available until April 2024. Read more about the rising rates of sexually transmitted infections in the JUCM archive: Syphilis Cases Rise 80%—10 Times More Newborns Diagnosed