Shortage of top anti-anxiety drug could cause suffering, doctors warn

Patients are struggling amid a shortage of a common anti-anxiety medication - with no sign of when it will be restocked.

Buprisone is regarded as one of the safest treatments for anxiety because it is less addictive, less lethal, and with fewer side effects than benzodiazepines like Valium. It is also cheaper.

However, a third of the country's supply has been cut off after an FDA inspection of a Mylan factory in West Virginia, which produces the drug, found it to be dirty and failing in quality.

The factory was forced to cease all production until the FDA is satisfied that changes have been made - and there is no date set for restarting. 

Psychiatrists warn the ramifications can be severe for people struck by the shortage. 

Those who go a few days without buprisone may experience a sudden return of the symptoms that drove them to take medication. Many have described suffering withdrawal symptoms, including the notoriously painful 'brain zaps' - jolts of white light and buzzing.

A third of the country's buprisone supply has been cut off after an FDA inspection of a Mylan factory in West Virginia, which produces the drug, found it to be dirty and failing in quality

A third of the country's buprisone supply has been cut off after an FDA inspection of a Mylan factory in West Virginia, which produces the drug, found it to be dirty and failing in quality

Beth Salcedo, MD, board president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America said she is concerned that, when it comes to medications for mental disorders, there is often a lack of urgency to resume production.

'Anxiety is associated with suicide so this drug is as important as anything else when it comes to life-saving,' Salcedo told DailyMail.com. 

'The FDA needs to look at it that way. When you see the suicide rate going up, we need to be careful about keeping our risk factors in check.'

Paul Crosby, MD, chief medical officer at the Lindner Center of Hope in Mason, Ohio, concurred.  

'Sometimes it's easy to look at this and say "this isn't life-threatening, it's anxiety,"' he told DailyMail.com. 

'But somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of the US population experiences a diagnosable anxiety disorder every year. And when you consider depression, that's the leading cause of disability. 

'This isn't a minor issue, this is a pretty big deal, and there's real suffering and morbidity when people experience shortages.'

In 2017, there were 13.5 million buprisone prescriptions filled, up from 10.2 million in 2015. 

Buprisone, once sold as Buspar but is now only sold as a generic, tends to be a treatment that patients are prescribed after other anti-anxiety medications fail. 

That's partly because the clinical trials for buprisone took a general scope, using it for people with various anxiety symptoms.  

For a patient's first anti-anxiety prescription, doctors are more likely to put them on an SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac or Zoloft, because there are

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