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Number of Drug Shortages at Record High

Friday, June 24th, 2011
The newest trend in health care is drug shortages. CNNMoney (6/11, Kavilanz) reported, “The number of drug shortages is at a record high, and the Food and Drug Administration is warning that they are getting even worse.” Valerie Jensen, the “FDA’s expert on drug shortages,” said that “the agency is especially concerned about the danger to consumers from shortages of injectable drugs, which represented more than half of the shortages reported last year to the FDA. These are oncology drugs, drugs used during surgery, and emergency treatments."

As a practicing pharmacist, you know the impact that drug shortages are having on the health care scene. Because many of the injectable products that are short in supply are administered in hospitals, their availability has dramatically affected hospital pharmacy operations in some parts of the country.

Although many reasons are given for these shortages, I have begun to think it is more a result of our efforts to cut drug costs. Manufacturers have less and less profit to work with so any small setback becomes a major financial problem for them. I’m afraid we will be seeing more of this as shortages become a more common rather than a less common problem.

Do you agree or disagree?
Blog Info
Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacy Times
Blog Description
This blog focuses on what our Editor-in-Chief sees as the future of pharmacy.
Author Bio
Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, is the Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacy Times, a position he has held since 2002. Mr. Eckel is a professor at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He serves as executive director of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists.

In this blog, Eckel will provide commentary on relevant issues impacting pharmacists and pharmacy professionals, including the merging of pharmacy benefit managers, the implications of health care reform, the conversion of major drugs from prescription to over-the-counter, trends in pharmacy careers, and opioid abuse. He will also discuss legislative issues that impact pharmacists, and comment on the evolving role of the pharmacist.
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