Why it matters: Some of these drugs aren’t mass-produced.
I took The US Pharmacopeia, a nonprofit organization that studies the drug supply chain closer look In the potential impact of hurricane damage. The nonprofit assigns “weakness scores” to drugs, taking into account factors associated with shortages, such as low prices, quality problems at production sites and the number of companies that make the drug.
Pain relievers had a high vulnerability, as did IV electrolytes such as potassium chloride and magnesium sulfate that are factory-made and listed by Pfizer as likely to be affected by the hurricane. These medications help patients with severe dehydration or complications from diabetes, among other conditions.
One unexpected upside to the growing shortages of some medications is that, under federal rules, specialty pharmacies are allowed to make emergency medications. The policy “will come in handy at a time like this when you have an unexpected shock to the system,” said Vimala Raghavendran, a shortage expert at US Pharmacopeia.
The last time this happened: A shortage of cancer drugs threatened patient care.
This disaster occurred just as the recent drug shortage crisis was beginning to recede. For weeks this spring and summer, doctors were running low on two generic and inexpensive chemotherapy drugs—the best treatment for patients with testicular, ovarian, and other cancers.
Doctors expected death rates to rise as patients arrived for treatment only to find that they would not be given the most potent drug in the combination used to treat them. The FDA has since begun allowing shipments of drugs from China that are not expressly approved for the US market.
“It looks better,” Dr. Lucio Jordan, chief of Cancer Specialists of Florida, said in an email Tuesday, noting that his centers have a monthly supply of the drugs, which are called cisplatin and carboplatin.
What we don’t know: Will Congress or the White House act?
Medication shortages are nothing new. But the cancer drug crisis has sparked a widespread debate about its root causes and solutions. Some of the proposals have come from Medicare, which Unveil the plan To motivate hospitals to stockpile essential medicines. A key Senate health committee has introduced a pandemic funding bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration more data to avoid shortages.
Pioneers in the generic drug industry and other experts Cite the pressure on intermediary firms that give the lowest bidder access to millions of customers. They say the “race to the bottom” in prices destabilizes the industry and rewards those who might fork out or work abroad, often in India, where labor costs are at their lowest. Parliament has it been checked Some of these dynamics but did not issue proposals.