A brand of penicillin used to treat pregnant women infected with or exposed to syphilis is in short supply across Los Angeles County and nationwide, and physicians are being urged to maintain reserves.
Called Bicillin L-A, the drug is made by Pfizer, which has reported a manufacturing delay of the product, according to an alert from Los Angeles County Public Health officials, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Officials with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a similar alert late last month, urging physicians to refrain from using the drug on individuals with other sexually transmitted diseases. Although the Food and Drug Administration told medical experts the shortage should be resolved by July, the delay is concerning to local health officials, according to the Daily News.
The drug is the only one recommended for pregnant women with syphilis.
“This is of particular concern in Los Angeles County because we are experiencing a significant increase in syphilis, as are many parts of California, including syphilis among pregnant women and congenital syphilis among infants,” the L.A. County health department has said.
Congenital syphilis occurs when the disease is transmitted from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy. The brand of penicillin used to treat syphilis in pregnancy is close to 100 percent effective at preventing devastating outcomes associated with congenital syphilis, according to the county.