Currently there are over 180 prescription drugs that are in a dangerously short supply. These drugs include many important and lifesaving antibiotics, chemotherapy and cardiovascular drugs.
There are a few things the government is doing to try to tackle the problem. The Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act of 2011 is a bill that is currently active that would require drug manufacturers to notify the FDA six months in advance of potential drug manufacturing interruptions.
An additional problem with the drug shortage situation is that those manufacturers that do have the drugs are charging higher than normal prices for their drugs. Evidence has been discovered that shows that five drug companies have charged seven to eighty times the regular prices of shortage drugs. Since the discovery of this information, President Obama has issued an executive order that seeks to reduce this price gouging problem by asking the Department of Justice to examine price increases for shortage drugs to see if the increases violate the law.
I will continue to watch for developments on this issue.
Trapp, D., Obama Targets Prices of Shortage Drugs, American Medical News, November 21, 2011.
Current Drug Shortages, FDA, November 23, 2011, http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/DrugShortages/ucm050792.htm
Drug Shortages, FDA, November 21, 2011, http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/drugshortages/default.htm