Doctors, patients concerned over shortage of blood pressure drug 'Atenolol'

There's a critical nationwide shortage of one of the most commonly prescribed blood pressure drugs. It's called Atenolol.

Millions of Americans are dependent on it and that has both doctors and patients concerned for their health.

Keri Kwarta has been using the same high blood pressure drug for 15 years. it's called Atenolol. When she was told there was a shortage and she would have to use an alternative, it made her nervous. And her fears came true, it did not go well.

"I was incredibly sluggish and it appeared cumulative by the end of the week. I could hardly move off the couch. It was complete lethargy,” she said.

So Keri went to see her physician Dr. Kim Williams. He says it's not that other beta blockers aren't good alternatives, but for some patients the transition can result in some challenges.

"Not everyone can use an alternative,” Doctor Kim said. “The patient may not feel as well and so that's why we really need to have medications that patients are stable on."

Atenolol is a commonly prescribed beta blocker that treats high blood pressure. No one's exactly sure why it's hard to get right now, but some are blaming it on a shortage of an active ingredient and the high demand.

It's a generic drug that is a fraction of the cost of the name brand drugs. Beta blockers are known to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks in patients, and that's why it's crucial for patients to continue to use them. The shortage means not only are patients faced with spending more on an alternative, but their also faced with trying to adjust to a new prescription.

Right now, there are 4 drug makers that make atenolol that are said to be experiencing some form of shortage. Consumers can keep tabs on any drug shortage by going to the FDA website. But Dr. Kim Williams says there's no need to panic. The key is to work with your doctor to find the right fit.

"Certainly they must see their doctor. for the majority one of the other 8 drugs will be just fine for others it might be a struggle to find which of those 8 they are going to be comfortable with,” he said.

This drug shortage has been going on for months now and there is no indication as to if and when it might end.