• May 24, 2024

The U.S. Is Facing Record Drug Shortages

 The U.S. Is Facing Record Drug Shortages
SATURDAY, APR 13, 2024 – 02:35 PM

And just like that, the supply chain crisis we saw for pharmaceuticals during Covid has returned. ABC reported this week that drug shortages in the United States have reached an “all-time high”.

In the first quarter of 2024, the U.S. faced 323 active medication shortages, surpassing the previous record of 320 in 2014, as reported by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the Utah Drug Information Service, the report says.

The American Cancer Society highlighted a particularly alarming shortage of chemotherapy drugs, which has led to severe impacts on patient care. Hospitals and clinics have reported completely running out, with doctors having to ration or prioritize who gets the limited supplies first.

Dr. Paul Abramowitz, CEO of ASHP told ABC: “All drug classes are vulnerable to shortage. Some of the most worrying shortages involve generic sterile injectable medications, including cancer chemotherapy drugs and emergency medications stored in hospital crash carts and procedural areas.”

He continued: “Much work remains to be done at the federal level to fix the root causes of drug shortages. ASHP will continue to engage with policymakers regularly as we guide efforts to draft and pass new legislation to address drug shortages and continue to strongly advocate on behalf of our members for solutions that work.”

Abramowitz noted ongoing national shortages of ADHD medications, including Adderall, which began in late 2022 due to manufacturing delays and has since become demand-driven, according to the FDA. A Senate Homeland Security Committee report in March 2023 highlighted that drug shortages have been a persistent issue in the U.S. for over a decade, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to delayed or unavailable treatments.

During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, experts testified that these shortages also impose financial burdens on patients as they resort to more expensive alternatives. The ASHP is collaborating with federal agencies to address these shortages, recommending increased transparency and diversity in supply chains, though it expressed concerns about potential financial penalties on hospitals unable to maintain large stocks of medications.

The FDA told ABC: “The FDA can utilize different tools during a shortage to assist manufactures with increasing supply including expediting review of a supplement to add additional supply of active ingredients or adding additional capacity.”

It continued: “Unfortunately, we are not able to share specific actions, as they are considered commercial confidential information.”



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