Most of the hospital’s medicines – an estimated $100-million supply a year – are tracked by automated systems that allow for quick reorders when the supply runs low. But these automated systems, designed to help the hospital avoid purchases and storage costs of unused pills and vials, do not work if it is uncertain when the next batch of drugs will come in.
A few hundred medicines make the list of drugs in short supply: anesthetics, drugs for nausea and nutrition, infection treatments and diarrhea pills. A separate list has scarce cancer drugs for leukemia or breast cancer. Link
DOVER, Del. — With 230 drugs reported in short supply this past year, cancer patients have been forced to miss chemotherapy treatments and switch to other medicines with more side effects.
A shortage of Taxol caused Geri McClimens, who has Stage 3 breast cancer, to miss her infusion. Taxol is used to treat breast cancer in patients when the disease has not responded to other medications. She then was given Taxotere, which caused her to miss eight days of work because of side effects.
“With the Taxotere, I was sick as a dog,” McClimens said. “It was awful.”
In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration reported 61 drugs in short supply. By 2011, the number had almost quadrupled, the majority injectable drugs used for cancer treatment, anesthesia and intravenous feeding.
The FDA reports that among many reasons, 43 percent of shortages stem from below-standard drug manufacturing facilities. Numerous FDA accounts describe drugs coming out of manufacturing plants contaminated with microbes, impurities, bits of metal and rust and other particulates.
“If you read the FDA inspections of these plants, basically it’s scary,” said Erin Fox, pharmacist and manager of the Drug Information Service at University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics. “It’s crumbling buildings with mold on the walls, rust on the equipment. It doesn’t seem like what you would think a factory in the U.S. would look like.” Link
One of the most serious hurdles for new communities starting out is medical care. How do you get specialized care you need, how do you get prescription drugs, that sort of thing. Hopefully local manufacturing can pick up the slack in time.