Prescription Drug Shortages becoming a concern. Does the government need to step in?

As if the cost of health insurance and care isn't enough, now there is concern among industry insiders that more and more prescription drugs could face shortages in production. Many of these are drugs are those that are called Off-label drugs. Prescribing a medicine for a purpose not approved by the FDA — known as off-label use — is legal and common. It sometimes leads to new and effective uses of a drug.

Nationwide, drug shortages of all kinds — from antibiotics to heart drugs to saline solution — are increasing and having a high impact on public health, the Food and Drug Administration said in a November public meeting. They often result from manufacturing problems — such as when a factory shuts down or too few suppliers exist to meet demand. But the reasons for shortages of expensive infused drugs are particularly complicated, involving complex manufacturing processes, scientific uncertainty and financial motivations.


“There aren’t a lot of industries where if a manufacturer botches the production of a product and is responsible for a reduction in supply that they are able to profit from that,” said William Shrank, a study author and chief medical officer for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s health plan. “It is the federal government, underinsured, and uninsured patients that are picking up the tab.”

It's upsetting to think that pharmaceutical manufacturers can do this to people that are relying on these medications to maintain or improve the quality of patient lives. What do you think can be done to safeguard prescription drugs from allegedly predatory pricing?


Leslie S McMillan is a benefits broker in Rolesville, NC, specializing in the needs of individuals. She is an Elite broker for healthcare.gov, offers Medicare Advantage, Supplements & RX coverage as well as alternative STM catastrophic plans, Life, Long Term Care, Accident , Vision and Dental. She can be reached at 919-271-6898 or at leslie@lsminsurance.net

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