The Nursing Shortage and the Drug Connection

  1. from: revolution may-june. 2001

    the nursing shortage and the drug connection
    by don demoro
    director of the institute for health and socio-economic policy.

    business gurus tout the recent wave of large pharmaceutical industry mergers and acquisitions as a way to lower drug costs. with competing companies merging their r&d efforts, drug companies will enjoy "economies of scale," which, according to experts, should maximize their ability to develop new drugs and bring them to market. administrative expenses, once performed in each company, would be combined into one and further reduce expenses. so consumers would get more and better prescription drugs at lower prices.
    that's the business theory. in practice, just the opposite is happening.

    pharmaceutical industry mergers appear to be a primary cause of the explosive rise in prescription drug costs and may be a key factor in influencing hospitals to reduce hospital nurse staffing levels.

    that's the findings of a study just completed by the institute for health and socio-economic policy (ihsp). through the study, conducted at the request of rep. dennis j. kucinich (d-ohio), the ihsp was able to document for the first time a correlation among patient access, corporate market share activities, and health caregiver staffing ratios.

    at the heart of the 125-page study is an analysis of the staggering economic and social effects of the pharmaceutical industry merger and acquisition binge of recent years - augmented by a survey of hospital executives who describe their response to prescription drug price hikes.

    the findings should send a sobering message to policy makers: hospitals expect to lay off nurses in the midst of a national hospital nursing shortage and medicare patients may have even less access to needed prescription drugs. meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry becomes dominated by a handful of corporate giants who are making record profits.

    the study also uncovered another trend: escalating drug prices - not reductions in medicare reimbursement rates, as many contend - may be the primary culprit in lower revenues and profits for many hospitals and managed care plans. hospitals have responded by cost-cutting, in the form of staffing cuts and service reductions.

    while all health care consumers feel the pinch of staffing cuts, seniors bear the brunt of rising drug prices. as the biggest consumer of prescription drugs, seniors with employer-provided retiree health plans face cost-shifting by their former employers. those without coverage have it even worse, as they have no stepladder to reach the drug costs that climb out of reach.

    great story (too long to post, a must read!) at:
  2. Visit NRSKarenRN profile page

    About NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN Moderator

    Joined: Oct '00; Posts: 27,490; Likes: 13,693
    Utilization Review, prior Intake Mgr Home Care; from PA , US
    Specialty: 40 year(s) of experience in Home Care, Vents, Telemetry, Home infusion


  3. by   SICU Queen
    How sad.
  4. by   Mijourney
    Hi. This is going to seem crass, but I feel like I had the traffic light and was broad-sided by the pharmaceutical industry. My elderly passenger was critically injured or killed in the process.

    Karen, since it's quite obvious that you have a talent for referring us to excellent resources, can you or someone else refer me to where I can find the number employed in the pharmaceutical industry, educational status, salaries, and so on? It is quickly appearing that the pharmaceuticals will replace the HMOs and insurance companies as the "bad" guys.

    I'll look at this information as I'm looking at the other statistics you posted regarding the state of nursing.
  5. by   NRSKarenRN
    Will do some reseach and get back to you.
  6. by   Ted
    I am most certainly not surprised with the high cost of prescription drugs. Think of the "advertising" the drug companies spend. I would be interested to know how big a percentage these companies spend just on advertising alone. I'm seeing more and more t.v. and magazine adds aimed for the general audience! This is on top of the money spent via their "usual" methods of advertising: drug reps; conference sponsorship; tons of "free gifts" for the physicians and their office staff.

    Some of the money that the drug companies spend on their "advertising" seem to set-up "catch-22" situations. On one hand, they do provide funding for many a conference (both physican and nursing!!) which is many times connected to worth while causes. (Many great professional healthcare speakers are funded by drug companies.) On the other hand, this is more money being attached to the cost of the drug which the consumer pays out.

    Another "catch-22" situation is the free drug samples the pharmaceutical companies provide physician offices. On one hand, these free drug samples are given to individuals/families who might otherwise may not be able to afford them. Yet one doctor's office may store tens of thousands of dollars worth of free samples that, again, are being attached to the cost of the drug . . . which the comsumer pays out.

    I'm concerned about the reliance/dependence from healthcare organizations and physician offices on these type of promotions which seem to provide a benefical service . . . but in a long run still drives up the cost of the drugs.

    This whole issue on the spiraling cost of medications frustrates me especially because I fear, as mentioned in this topic thread, it could cause a further decline in other healthcare services. I most certainly don't think that these mergers amongst the pharmaceutical companies are helping matters.

    Just needed to vent. . .