Critical Drugs Regularly in Short Supply

A disturbing situation has begun occurring in the medical community, and it has to do with the pharmaceutical supply chain management. In a number of cases, critical drugs that are expensive and essential for patients to survive conditions are running into short supply. Almost unheard of decades before, today certain drugs are now not available. The situation is putting affected patients are at risk and the cause seems to be about business.


The reasons for drug shortages vary but some stand out. The most basic driver is profit. If a drug company is not making money off a particular product, it discontinues the production to lower operating costs, regardless of whether a small group of patients need that drug. On the flip-side, if a brand name pharmaceutical makes money, the same company may cut off its generic version, forcing buyers to purchase the more expensive brand name version.

In some cases doctors and clinics can sell directly the drugs provided to patients. This creates a mark-up scenario since patients can only get particular drugs from specific doctors providing a given treatment. Cancer treatment is one example that falls into this scenario.

Finally, the government subsidizes medical care for many, but when the rates fall too low due to governmental budget cutting companies then refuse to sell their product. Instead they shut down production they feel costs more to maintain. Again, the victims are the patients needing the pharmaceutical.

Cost Inflation Occurs

There is no question that drug shortages cause the same drug's prices to escalate. The issue, if it is just a simple production problem, falls into basic economic principles of supply and demand. In a free market, high demand drugs command what the market is willing to pay for them. Unfortunately, in real life this means those who can pay or have insurance companies willing to accept the charge get the drugs first. Others who can't afford the particular treatment lose out. That can increase the risk of harm to the patient.

Alternative Prescriptions Raise Risks

Doctors and clinics still have to treat people, regardless of issues in pharmaceutical supply chain management. As a result, they will attempt to work with substitute drugs that are available when the correct one is not. Due to a lack of practice experience, substitutes can lead to prescription errors which harm patients rather than help them. Unfortunately, it becomes a necessary risk as the primary drug is not available.

Article Source: Jeremy_B_Thompson

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