April 15, 2011

CHANGE: FDA Reports Nationwide Shortage Of ADHD Drugs. Is it just me, or are we seeing more shortages lately?

UPDATE: A reader who asks anonymity writes:

As a pharmacist of 25 years currently working in hospital pharmacy-I can tell you that the drug shortages are ongoing, dire, and in some cases life-threatening. Take a look at ashp.org/shortages to see the extent of the problem. Many items on the list are for crash carts and critical care.

We’ve had to resort to back-up products, alternatives and work-arounds. All of which compromise quality of care and safety.

Nothing on why, though. And reader Anne Linehan writes:

I recently completed treatment for colorectal cancer, and my chemo was 5fu + Leucovorin. I had 8 rounds last fall, but only got the Leucovorin for 4 of the treatments; 4 treatments were 5fu only. Nationwide, there was (still is?) a shortage of Leucovorin, and oncologists were scrambling to find it. When my doctor could get his hands on it, it was rationed out to select patients depending on stage of treatment, so sometimes I got it, but other times I didn’t. My oncologist didn’t know why there was a shortage.

5fu is what goes after cancer cells, and the Leucovorin works to prolong 5fu’s effectiveness. My doctor didn’t think the lack of Leucovorin for some treatments would affect my long-term prognosis, but subconsciously there’s a little something in the back of my brain that wonders. You know?

Yeah. And Dr. Dale Russell writes:

Our hospital is frequently forwarding the medical staff updates on shortages. Some are for simple, basic compounds. Calcium gluconate? How hard is that to produce? Others are very significant, commonly used drugs that affect the course of treatment. Nitroglycerin (chest pain), ketorolac (Toradol for kidney stone and other pain), morphine (WTF?), dexamethasone (steroid with many uses), antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs.

What gives? Medication shortages seem so third-world. But then so do a lot of things lately.

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