Broken system making it harder for hospitals and patients to get some life-saving drugs
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of CBS News
Posted: June 6th, 2022
American hospitals have been living with serious drug shortages for more than a decade. Most days, nearly 300 essential drugs can be in short supply. It's not a matter of supply and demand. The drugs are needed and the ingredients are easy to make. Pharmaceutical companies have stopped producing many life-saving generic drugs because they make too little profit. Yet, year after year, the government stays on the sidelines as companies take drug production offline - and doctors worry the shortages are compromising patient care. Neonatologist Dr. Mitch Goldstein treats the most vulnerable patients. Many ... premature and sick babies have undeveloped digestive systems, so Dr. Goldstein keeps them alive with intravenous nutrients, many of which are in short supply. Antony Gobin heads the pharmacy at Loma Linda Hospital. He told us shortages of basic drugs are a constant worry. "We were dealing with shortages long before COVID," [he said]. "They're all very old, fundamental drugs that every hospital in the country needs and uses." Drug shortages can kill. In 2011, when norepinephrine, an old, low profit drug used to treat septic shock, was in short supply, hundreds of people around the country died. Middlemen, the group purchasing organizations and drug distributors take their cut. The drug manufacturers end up with just a small fraction of what the patient pays. Many have simply stopped making the least profitable drugs.