Drug Shortage Crisis Addressed in Congressional Legislation

15 Feb

The thought that there could be a shortage in pain killing drugs for the people who need them (doctors) is stunning and frankly hard to imagine. But surgeons are seeing shortages in everything from morphine to propofol, and this means they have to alter their treatment plans for patients by using alternative drugs. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists lists 150 "medically necessary" drugs in the shortage crisis.
"It’s been going on for a number of years, but right now it seems to be a little worse than usual," said Dr. James Novotny, a medical oncologist at Franciscan Skemp.
The most important question is why is this happening? Pharmaceutical experts believe it comes down to business decisions made by drug companies. Some drug companies are choosing to increase production of the more profitable name brand drugs while cutting back on the production of generics.
The FDA offers several potential culprits: manufacturing delays, commodity shortages and increased demand.
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota took up the cause last December, vowing to introduce legislation that would provide the FDA with tools to address drug shortages. And she’s following through, with an announcement from her website that says she and Bob Casey (D-PA) have introduced a bill that gives the FDA the ability to require early notification from pharmaceutical companies when an issue may arise that could cause a shortage.
The duo’s proposed legislation is supported by the Minnesota Hospital Association, the American Hospital Association, Fairview Hospital, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.