Drug Shortages Reported in US Hospitals

The drug shortage problem in US hospitals is growing worse. Last year, 211 medications were in short supply. From January to March this year another 89 drugs were not available.

Medications are in short supply even for serious illnesses such as cardiac arrest, cystic fibrosis and cancer. This has led to a host of repercussions. Doctors are delaying treatment or using substitute medicines. Health experts say even life-saving drugs may not be available when required urgently.

Most of the non-available drugs are injectable medicines used in cancer wards, ICUs and emergency rooms. Sometimes, the shortage can last for months. And, suitable alternatives are not always available. This drug shortage problem is not restricted to the US. Other countries have also reported supply disruptions.

There are many reasons for the drug shortage including factory closures for upgrades, heavy demand for medicines, import troubles affecting availability of raw ingredients and recalls of contaminated drugs. Health experts say many manufacturers have stopped producing cheaper and older generic drugs. This is another major cause for the drug shortage.

Sometimes, the repercussions can be fatal. Last fall, two people died because they were given a wrong painkiller because of morphine shortage. To deal with the situation, the FDA has requested a few foreign companies to send to the US their versions of certain scarce drugs. Affected companies are also working overtime to overcome backlogs.

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