Drug Shortage in the U.S. May Pose Deadly Problem for Patients

TIME

Medicinal drugs in the U.S. are in short supply. Some are so scarce — medicines for heart problems, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, Lyme disease, and tuberculosis as well as antibiotics and crucial saline solutions for patients too sick to eat or drink — that patients are dying because they can’t get access to them.

The shortage goes back at least a decade and shows disturbing trends.

In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration listed 154 drugs that were in short supply or no longer available. That figure exploded to 456 in 2012. Today there are more than 300 drugs listed in short supply by the FDA.

The situation is pressuring U.S. hospitals to pay at least $230 million more a year than they ordinarily would to find alternative treatments, according to Michael Alkire, COO of Premier, an alliance of hospitals and health care providers.

“Hospitals have been scrambling to…

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