AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Barry Bryant, owner of Barney’s Pharmacy, says they haven’t faced many drug or pharmaceutical shortages during the pandemic. But they have seen shortages in other areas like medical equipment supplies.
“A lot of the stuff does come from overseas, so it might be floating around in a container ship. Some of this stuff is made in the states. If you can get it here, it may be limited availability and you’re going to pay a higher price for it,” Bryant says.
It comes down to a shortage of raw materials, like molded plastic and foam, which are common in many medical equipment devices including diabetic shoes.
“You see that issue with wheelchairs that have the padded arm rests. They’re telling us there’s an issue getting the foam to make the padded arm rests with,” Bryant said. “We can get the plain bath benches, but the ones with the foam arm rests, can’t get them.”
Some hospitals have been hit harder by this issue.
“Crutches. You wouldn’t think crutches would be an issue, but even the hospitals, you go in there and they don’t have crutches. They’re calling us looking for crutches,” Bryant said.
Bryant says much of their inventory is manufactured in the US, but the raw materials come from overseas.
“We have found a local supplier where we can get that [bath benches] here, so these are not the ones being made overseas, and the price is almost double,” Bryant said. “You’re trying to protect the consumer, but we’re kind of bound by what we’re having to buy it for.”
There are seven and soon to be eight locations of Barney’s pharmacy, and Bryant says they keep the shelves stocked with enough supplies to last a few weeks in case they run into any issues.
But the supply chain issues are affecting the price of these medical equipment devices.
“It’s all supply and demand. If the demand goes up and the supply goes down or it’s limited, it’s no telling what’s going to happen with prices,” Bryant says.
In April, an eighth location will open in Thomson. And Barney’s has faced another supply chain issue Bryant says he didn’t see coming.
“Believe it or not we can’t get shelving. You would think my most immediate concern would be getting drugs in stock, but it’s the shelves to put it on,” Bryant said.