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Capitol Health Call
May 9, 2012

Seeking Shortage Solutions

JAMA. 2012;307(18):1904. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.4002

Congress should prod the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take actions to alleviate current drug shortages and to implement long-term solutions to avoid such crises in the future, argued 32 health care organizations and entities in March 16 letters to Sen Tom Harkin (D, Iowa), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Rep Fred Upton (R, Mich), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Shortages of certain drugs have been reported since 2011. Most of the drugs are generics, and most of those are injectables. The shortages have led to the creation of gray markets, where the in-demand drugs are sold with steep markups in cost. Many of the drugs are used for cancer treatment, and the shortages have caused hospitals and physicians to delay or cancel treatments. Patient deaths due to the drug shortages have been reported.