As many as 70% of American adults are taking at least one prescription drug a day, a 14% increase from 2019, according to a new report from Help Advisor. Medication to treat anxiety and depression has skyrocketed following the pandemic.

The report found that more than 30 million Americans — 1 in 8 individuals — are facing a prescription shortage, and the severity of shortages varies by state.

U.S. states facing the highest medication shortage:

  1. Louisiana — 16.9%.
  2. Utah — 16.2%.
  3. Alabama — 15.8%.
  4. Alaska — 15.7%.
  5. Kansas — 15.5%.

According to Help Advisor in an email to the Deseret News, 396,570 respondents from Utah have been unable to fill a prescription, with 36% of Utah residents experiencing adverse health effects as a result of the shortage.

What is causing the medication shortage?

Prescription drugs are not the only drugs in high demand; pharmacies are also struggling to keep over-the-counter medications stocked on shelves across the U.S. “Drug shortages can occur for many reasons, including manufacturing and quality problems, delays and discontinuation,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Help Advisor reported that there are nearly 300 medications in short supply and facing high demand. Many common prescription medications are in shortage right now:

  • Asthma.
  • ADHD.
  • Pain.
  • Seizures.
  • Shingles.

“The most common reason for a drug shortage is a manufacturing or quality problem. Supply chain issues for raw materials also play a role, as do delays and discontinuations of drugs that cause a sudden spike in demand for similar drugs,” per Help Advisor. “A sudden closure of a drug manufacturing facility can also have a ripple effect on supplies.”

The high demand in prescription medication following the pandemic, along with lowering the costs of generic drugs, has also added to the shortage. As many as 44% of Utahns have reported feelings of high distress due to their inability to fill prescriptions.

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How is the problem being addressed?

In November last year, the Biden-Harris administration turned to the Defense Production Act to “bolster (the) medical supply chain.”

“To ensure Americans always have the essential medicines and other critical medical products we need, we must have more control over our supply chains,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said in a press release. “In addition to having the necessary data and insights for visibility into supply chain disruptions, we need to be better positioned to help our partners in the private sector mitigate supply chain disruptions. The actions we have taken today, and will continue to take, accomplish these goals.”

According to the Help Advisor report, the FDA is also taking measures to address the issue in a few ways:

  • Accelerating the evaluation and authorization process for new production facilities.
  • Assessing and, when appropriate, prolonging the shelf life of current stocks.
  • Collaborating with international companies to divert their products to the American market.