10 notes on U.S. drug shortages

Drug shortages are a rising healthcare issue facing the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The consequences for Americans who require drugs which are in short supply can be severe; and the shortages are due to a number of factors, from manufacturing to maintenance and regulations.

Here are 10 things to know about this "persistent problem," according to the report:

1. The number of drugs in short supply is now about 265, up 74 percent from five years ago.

2. The drugs in shortages range from cancer treatments such as BCG, antibiotics and even saline.

3. Causes for drug shortages include:

  • Drug companies without enough production capacity, unmaintained equipment and contamination in aging plants.
  • An FDA crackdown on low-quality drugs leading to companies closing down or scaling back.

4. Many of the scare drugs include older, costly injectable treatments which have low prices as they are not patent-protected.

5. Ketorolac, often used intra-operatively and post-operatively as a painkiller, is among the drugs currently in short supply.

6. Zosyn, an antibiotic, and its generic versions, are in short supply as well.

7. In 2012, the FDA was granted power to speed up approvals of manufacturing upgrades, as well as to require manufacturers to provide notice of potential shortages.

8. New shortages in 2014 decreased to 44 from 251 in 2011.

9. According to the FDA, they prevented 101 shortages last year.

10. The Government Accountability Office said the FDA could do more to alleviate shortages, according to a 2014 report.

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