With the list of lifesaving drugs in dangerously short supply growing ever longer, Tampa Bay’s hospitals are  getting inundated with unorthodox sales pitches from companies promising speedy delivery of medications unavailable anywhere else.

“Answer this riddle correctly … you will receive free ground shipping on your order,” was the recent e-mailed offer from a Miami-based company that listed medicines on the federal government’s shortage list it claimed it could assist with.

It didn’t quote prices, but pharmacy buyers say they know to expect markups averaging as much as 650 percent over the costs they’re accustomed to paying. That’s the price of doing business with the pharmaceutical industry’s so-called gray market.  read more