October 31, 2011
With drug shortages being blamed for price gouging and patient deaths across the country, President Barack Obama is calling for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take steps toward solving the problem. According to MSNBC, those steps include broadening reporting of potential drug shortages, accelerating the review of applications for manufacturing changes on drugs shortages, and getting the Justice Department information on cases of collusion and instances of price gouging.
The President argued that the “slow-rolling” problem must be fixed now by saying, “We can’t wait for action on the Hill, we’ve got to go ahead and move forward.”
Reports show there are more than 200 medications on a list of scarcely stocked items in the United States. That is a nearly 300 percent increase from the mere 56 listed in 2006. While the FDA has managed to ward off 137 shortages in the last 21 months, lack of vital medications and supplies are being linked to hundreds of deaths across the country. For instance, the Alabama Department of Health is being blamed for nine deaths and ten others being harmed after contamination through feeding tubes where sterile premix was not available.
The deaths are made even more difficult by the fact that the drugs are available, but at ridiculously marked up prices through “gray market” distributors.