An antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease is in short supply in Minnesota, forcing some clinics to scramble as the tick season arrives.
Doxycycline is ordinarily a cheap drug that's used to treat many diseases. It has been on the national drug shortage list since January because of manufacturing delays and rising demand.
Fairview Health Services still has supplies, but its cost to buy the antibiotic has jumped from 8 cents per pill to more than $3, spokeswoman Jennifer Amundson told the Star Tribune for a story published Wednesday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Minnesota is one of the leading states for Lyme disease with 500 to 1,200 cases annually. The illness is usually transmitted by infected black-legged ticks. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash. Untreated infections can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.
The cost of a typical prescription for Lyme disease — a three-week course of one pill per day — could shoot to $120, up from $45, for the uninsured, according to Dr. Frank Rhame, an infectious disease specialist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
Rhame said he saw "nothing nefarious" in the shortage, but added: "It's a drag for patients who need doxycycline," especially since it treats more than just Lyme disease.
Doxycycline is also used to treat skin infections including acne, pneumonia, anthrax inhalation and to prevent malaria, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The drug is also recommended for some sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, which saw a sharp rise in cases across Minnesota last year.