Medication shortages: 'Truly a public health crisis'

  1. Finally, word is getting out. Karen

    Philadelphia Inquirer:
    Medication shortages: 'Truly a public health crisis'

    Marie McCullough, Inquirer Staff Writer
    Posted: Sunday, June 30, 2013, 6:32 AM

    Rationing medical care is denounced as immoral in the United States, yet it goes on daily in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, ambulances, and pharmacies. Since 2006, this country has had worsening shortages of sterile generic injectables - drugs given by shots or intravenously. Currently, more than 300 medicines crucial to treating cancer, infections, cardiac arrest, premature infants, pain, and more are in short supply. The reasons for this predicament are complex, and the fixes, elusive. The scope, however, is clear from surveys of medical and trade groups. The latest, a University of Pennsylvania poll of oncologists released this month, found 83 percent had dealt with shortages by delaying cancer treatments, omitting doses, using second-choice drugs, or sending patients elsewhere. "Oncologists are facing wrenching decisions about how to allocate lifesaving drugs," said cancer specialist Keerthi Gogineni, who led the Penn survey....

    ...The secret human toll is rising. In the last three years, dozens of deaths due to contaminated drugs have been linked to producers and vendors who have capitalized on shortages. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) in Horsham received hundreds of reports of medication errors, near-disasters, and 15 deaths related to shortages when it surveyed 1,800 health-care practitioners in 2010. "This is the worst I've ever seen in over 40 years as a pharmacist," said Michael Cohen, ISMP president, who contributes to The Inquirer's Checkup blog. "It's truly a public-health crisis"...
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jun 30, '13
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    About NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN Moderator

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  3. by   monkeybug
    I'm glad it's finally being noticed. I've been dealing with a med shortage for over a year now. I've ended up paying 5 times more for a compound because my old generic injectable was not available. Not every compounding pharmacy can do injectables because a hood is required. Some compounding pharmacies, quite frankly, stink. It seems like, in my case, there is an end in sight, but I feel for all the others out there.
  4. by   SoldierNurse22
    We had this issue in oncology too. Shortages of phenergan and a couple antibiotics were the bane of our existance.
  5. by   tewdles
    They tried to switch my chemo when the companies intentionally stopped production of generic 5-FU in order to increase use of the new, expensive, oral chemo that has more severe and frequent side effects. It is all about profit.
  6. by   xoemmylouox
    It's sick that this is going on. Some of these medications have limited or no similar options. Things happen, but when it's done purely for profit there should be legal or financial consequences for these manufacturers.
  7. by   Not_A_Hat_Person
    And now the latest med shortage: sterile saline.
  8. by   kgoode0919
    Quote from Not_A_Hat_Person
    And now the latest med shortage: sterile saline.
    No ****. We had to go to another local hospital and get 1/2 NS IV bags the other night. We were told that there is a shortage of IVF.
    Last edit by traumaRUs on Jun 28, '14
  9. by   Rose_Queen
    Quote from Not_A_Hat_Person
    And now the latest med shortage: sterile saline.
    We've actually been seeing this for a while now. About 6-9 months ago, physicians were told to order less fluids if not absolutely essential, standards have changed from hanging a liter bag to hanging a 500mL bag, and the pharmacy is talking about having to compound solutions themselves. Not that it's anything new to them as they have been compounding other medications in shortage, but why should they have to for something so basic?
  10. by   Jillybean48
    This is ridiculous and makes me very angry.
  11. by   JustBeachyNurse
    There is an enlightening article in a recent Readers Digest explaining the drug shortage and the impact.

    Drug Shortages: The Scary Reality of a World Without Meds
    By Katherine Eban
    Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine June 2014

    Imagine surgeons running out of anesthetic drugs, cancer patients who can't get lifesaving chemotherapy, and doctors scrambling for the most basic antibiotics. We're already there.

    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jun 28, '14 : Reason: added article link
  12. by   Christy1019
    It seems every month there is a new item on the list of shortages. I don't think I've administered, let alone seen any Compazine in well over a year. And the problem doesn't just stop with medications. Last month we had no isotope for VQ scans for 2-3wks, and we have been out of the anaerobic blood culture bottles for months! We were told the culture bottles were d/t a national shortage and that there was no resolution in sight.
    With all the inflation in our healthcare system, you would think we could afford to fix this problem, its ridiculous!
  13. by   Muser69
    Coke or Pepsi should manufacture drugs. They never run out of that poison.
  14. by   WoosahRN
    Seriously. I just don't get this. I remember a year ago (?), we had a shortage of Epi. I work ICU. How do you avoid using epi if you really need it? It's not like it's an elective medication! <grumble>