Drug Shortages Worst in Oncology, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesia and Cardiology

Drug shortages in the United States are felt most strongly in oncology, emergency medicine, anesthesia and cardiology, according to a Cardiology Today report.

The number of drug shortages has tripled from 2005-2010, increasing from 61 to 178 in just five years. Drug shortages reached record highs in 2010, and experts say the scarcity has continued in 2011. Jouhayna Saliba, PharmD, senior regulatory program manager of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Drug Shortage Program for the FDA, said the agency does not know yet whether this year is worse than the year before.

President Obama signed an executive order on Oct. 31 asking the FDA to use broader reporting of manufacturing discontinuances that could result in drug shortages. The president also asked the FDA to speed up the review process for new drug suppliers, manufacturing sites and manufacturing changes.

Early identification of shortages has helped prevent 137 drug shortages since the beginning of 2010, according to the FDA. However, early prevention has only been somewhat successful, as drug shortages have increased in frequency and severity and are now being linked to patient morbidity and mortality after hospitalization.

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