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June 29, 2012

Drug Shortages: Seeking a Remedy to a Growing Problem

We have probably all witnessed the healing properties of an antibiotic that cures a pesky infection at some point in our lives. But what happens to a patient when the medicine that has been successfully holding their cancer at bay suddenly becomes unavailable? The frightening reality is that for many patients, and the providers who are treating them, drug shortages are increasingly too common.

While drug shortages are just recently gaining significant media attention, they have been a growing concern for the past six years. In 2011, demand exceeded the supply for over 200 drugs, including some of those used to treat childhood cancers (methotrexate) and adult cancers (Doxil). Approximately 80 percent of the shortage was for sterile injectable drugs. Drug shortages are not just affecting the availability of cancer drugs, but also antibiotics, electrolyte/nutrition drugs, anesthetics, vaccines and medicines used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This month's policy snapshot, Drug Shortages: Seeking a Remedy to a Growing Problem, describes the scope of the problem and how hospitals and other stakeholders are working together to develop solutions.

Click here to download the Policy Snapshot in PDF.