Crucial drugs are running in short supply and patients are dying as a result.
Much of the problem stem from manufacturing problems that interrupt production. There may be only one or two companies making a drug, and when something happens such as contamination, it creates huge gaps. As a result, there’s been 213 drug shortages so far this year, or two more than all of the previous year.
The shortages have forced hospitals to resort to gray market purchases. These involved third parties that may corner the market on some drugs, and resell them at exorbitant mark-ups. The practice then fuels further shortages.
And this “new” crisis has been occurring for a decade. ACP Internist ran an article 10 years ago that could run in its pages today. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*
Severe shortages for life-saving medications have driven a “gray market” in the wholesale drug supply industry, a watchdog group reports.
And the mark-up on gray market drugs is a budget-buster, reports the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization devoted entirely to medication error prevention and safe medication use. Purchasing agents and pharmacists at 549 hospitals responded to a survey on gray market activities associated with drug shortages.
The report includes chilling anecdotes from the respondents about pressure from physicians and administrators to ensure drugs are available, and drastic price gouging from the gray market suppliers. Price mark-ups of 10 times or more than the contract price were reported by about a third of respondents from critical access hospitals and community hospitals, and more than half of university hospitals. Examples include a box of calcium gluconate that cost $750 instead of the contract price of $50 (1,400% mark-up), and a supply of propofol that cost $25,000 instead of $1,500 (1,567% mark-up). Oh, and there’s exorbitant shipping and handling fees, too. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*
Last Sunday’s New York Times featured an op-ed by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, on the oncology drug shortage. It’s a serious problem that’s had too-little attention in the press:
Of the 34 generic cancer drugs on the market, as of this month, 14 were in short supply. They include drugs that are the mainstay of treatment regimens used to cure leukemia, lymphoma and testicular cancer.
Emanuel considers that these cancer drug shortages have led to what amounts to an accidental rationing of cancer meds. Some desperate and/or influential patients (or doctors or hospitals) get their planned chemo and the rest, well, don’t.
Unfortunately, Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*