It’s April Fool’s Day, a time for pranks, gags, and complaints about falling for pranks and gags. But here’s a non-gag for you to chew on: Capsule, the direct-to-consumer millennial drug delivery service, is running low on alprazolam, also known by its brand name Xanax, in the New York area and perhaps beyond.
A tipster told Gawker about this bitter pill this morning. Capsule sent the source a text that read:
Hi again! So sorry for the trouble but we wanted to let you know that Alprazolam is currently unavailable or available in limited quantities from our wholesalers. We may not be able to receive this in a timely manner. Please reach out to your prescriber to send the prescription to another pharmacy. Please let us know if you have any questions.
We do have some questions — such as: will this lead to an uprising of investment-banking Peloton subscribers calling for an immediate, soothing, even sedative end to the Xan shortage? Also, what happened? Unfortunately, Capsule did not immediately return our request for comment; neither did Pfizer, which used to own Xanax, or Viatris, which currently does. The Federal Drug Administration did not get back to us either, but they keep a running list of drug shortages on their website. In November, Fox 31 reported that more than 100 drugs were in short supply nationwide, due in part to the pandemic supply chain crunch. The database now reports over 120 medication shortages, but alprazolam is not listed among them.
We called the seven pharmaceutical wholesalers that distribute Pfizer products in New York, and only one was able to respond on short notice: Universal Marine Medical Supply, the “leading global provider of medical supplies, equipment, and services to remote industries” — a category which includes cruise ships, passenger, commercial, and private marine vessels, and “superyachts.” Asked if Universal had been experiencing an alprazolam shortage, a spokesperson said: “Not that I’m aware of.”
She offered that, because alprazolam is a Schedule II controlled substance with heavy restrictions on distribution, impacted pharmacies may simply have a demand that exceeds their supply. We reached out to the New York State Department of Health, which regulates controlled substance distribution, to see if they had thoughts. But they, too, were mum on this crucial issue. So we remain sleeplessly in the dark. In the meantime, we leave you with this: