The United States Senate Committee On Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs March 2023 report has raised concern over the availability of certain drugs within the U.S., including ADHD medication, children’s flu medication and common antibiotics.
“Shortages of critical medications continue to rise — including drugs used in hospital emergency rooms and to treat cancer, prescription medications, and even common over-the-counter treatments like children’s cold and flu medicine,” Chairman Gary Peters report said.
The number of active drug shortages within the U.S. peaked near the end of 2022 at a total of 295 different medications.
“They are caused by a number of factors, including economic drivers, insufficient supply chain visibility, and a continued U.S. overreliance on both foreign and geographically concentrated sources for medications and their raw materials,” Peters’ report said. “These shortages have cascading effects on patient care, causing delays in treatment, increasing the risk of medication errors, and requiring the use of less effective alternative treatments. Hospitals have also experienced increased costs, medication waste, and limited staffing capacity to address and remedy shortages.”
From 2021 to 2022, new drug shortages within the U.S. reportedly increased by nearly 30%. Peters said these shortages were growing in number, lasting longer and impacting patient care.
“While the average drug shortage lasts about 1.5 years, more than 15 critical drug products have been in shortage for over a decade,” the report said. “Shortages continue to have devastating consequences for patients and health care providers, including medication errors and treatment delays, and in some cases, have led to doctors having to ration lifesaving treatments.”
The report suggested that the U.S. medical drug industry was too reliant on foreign sources and production. A total 90% to 95% of generic sterile injectable drugs for critical acute care within the U.S. rely on “key starting materials and drug substances” from China and India.
About the Author
Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution