A Drug Shortage Has Just Hit America

A Drug Shortage Has Just Hit America

(RightWing.org) – Thousands of Americans are facing delays to vital medical treatment because we’re running out of prescription drugs. Missing medicines include life-saving cancer treatments. The shortages have multiple causes and no easy fix, and it’s becoming a serious problem.

The US has the world’s largest pharmaceutical industry — but apparently, it isn’t large enough. Supplies of hundreds of essential medicines are running low, and the problem seems to be growing. Two months ago, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) warned that drug shortages have risen to a new record, up almost 30% since 2021. Peters said hospitals need to regularly assess which drugs are in short supply and either ration them or use less effective substitutes.

It’s hard to pin down how many drugs are facing shortages because the answer depends on who you ask. A March 2023 Senate report said there were 295 “active drug shortages” in late 2022 — but the same month, the FDA said the real number was 130. However, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) says there were 295 in the last quarter of 2022 and 301 now.

The numbers are worrying, but when looking at the details, it gets even worse. One survey claimed doctors in 35 states have “little or no supply” of vital chemotherapy drugs, meaning cancer patients can’t get the treatment they need. Some have allegedly died because the drugs weren’t available.

It isn’t clear why some of these shortages are happening, and there seem to be multiple causes for the overall problem. For example, some drugs are being abused for off-label uses. Adderall is a treatment for ADHD, but many people have started using it to boost concentration — and that means there isn’t enough left to meet the medical demand. Global supply chain issues are also a factor; up to 80% of the active ingredients in medication are imported, mainly from China. Until that changes, the shortages are likely to continue.

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