Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Drug Shortage Threatens Patient Safety

In June the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported 246 drugs in short supply, among them life-saving cancer drugs and medications for premature babies. The shortage forces hospitals and doctors' offices to delay or cancel treatments.

When drug shortages like this occur, "the best medication for the patient's condition is no longer available," says Michael Speer, MD, a neonatologist and Texas Medical Association's president-elect. "Right now we don't have drugs that allow us to provide babies with nutrition through an IV."

Doctors and other health care experts say the cause of these shortages could be a number of factors. The FDA cannot force drug makers to increase production on medications unless the drug is life-sustaining or life-saving and the drug company is the only producer. TMA has teamed up with the American Medical Association and the federal government to monitor drug shortages and alert doctors sooner.

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