Since 2010, there has been an unprecedented shortage of many pharmaceutical drugs used by hospitals. The annual number of these shortages nearly tripled from 2007 to 2012. At least 80% of hospitals surveyed reported they have to restrict or ration chemotherapy and other critical-care medications. Most of these hospitals have had to delay treatments and many patients have received less-effective substitute drugs. There are currently about 300 â€œactiveâ€, or ongoing, shortages of pharmaceutical drugs despite new rules put in place by Congress and the FDA. There are many reasons for these deficiencies including shortages of raw materials and unexpected increases in demand. Some pharmaceutical firms claim to have experienced manufacturing and quality-control problems. Other drug makers have decided to stop making older, less profitable drugs knowing that the FDA canâ€™t force them to keep making a drug it wants to discontinue. If a company is the sole supplier of a drug, it is required to notify the FDA six months before it anticipates a shortage of that medication. This important time-period is needed for physicians to acquire substitute medications before a crisis occurs. However, this rule is not enforced and companies do not face any legal consequences if they fail to notify the FDA in time to prevent a shortage. Health advocates say these shortages can cause great harm to patients who depend upon these drugs. Besides being forced to use inferior substitutes, there are no studies that predict the effectiveness of a drug that is substituted in the middle of a regimen.
Pending Legislation: None
I oppose reforming current drug shortage policy
I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill that imposes stricter penalties for pharmaceutical companies that do not report potential drug shortages in a timely manner
I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill requiring our government to stockpile chemotherapy and other critical-care drugs to prevent manufacturer shortages