If you have high blood pressure then you've heard your doctor harp endlessly about how important it is to take your medication. Your doctor isn't wrong for doing that. High blood pressure can be controlled by medication in most cases. However, what happens when the medicine you need is in short supply?

That's a situation that literally millions of Americans who have been prescribed Atenolol are facing right now. Atenolol is the generic form of the brand name medicine Tenormin. Atenolol might cost you $4 bucks. Tenormin could run you closer to $400. So you see why the generic is very popular among doctors and patients.

Since pharmaceutical companies are in business to make a profit you can see why there is very little motivation to make a $4 prescription medication. Because of the narrow profit margin, only two companies make Atenolol. Both of those companies are finding a key ingredient of the medicine in scarce supply.

So, if you put two and two together, hard to find chemicals and short profit margins, you can see why many major pharmacies are telling customers they can't get the medicine they need.

If you have been prescribed Atenolol here are some suggestions on how you can weather this shortage. 

1.Ask your doctor if another medication could work just as well for your condition.

2. Visit websites like GoodRx.com to find out local availability.

3.Plan ahead by visiting the FDA's drug shortage database so you won't be caught short.

The good news in this shortage is there are many alternatives your doctor or pharmacy can offer. The bad news is they, the doctors and pharmacies, didn't do a good job of making patients aware. So you could find yourself without your medication and that's not good.