February 12, 2012

HEALTH CARE: Supply of a Cancer Drug May Run Out Within Weeks. “A crucial medicine to treat childhood leukemia is in such short supply that hospitals across the country may exhaust their stores within the next two weeks, leaving hundreds and perhaps thousands of children at risk of dying from a largely curable disease, federal officials and cancer doctors say.”

This seems kinda third-worldish to me. And these shortages keep happening.

UPDATE: Reader Don Jansen writes: “So price controls are imposed on injectable drugs and lo and behold a shortage arises. Who would have thunk it?” Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Physician-reader Eric Novack writes: “Glenn- these shortages are very real… one center I work at has trouble getting propofol for anesthesia and another cannot get zofran (ondansetron), one of the most effective anti-nausea drugs on the market…” Very upsetting.

MORE: More here: “Again, the reader is left with the impression that drug manufacturers are hugely incompetent, failing to produce the needed amount of drugs even in the face of rising prices. Thank goodness President Obama is on the case, issuing executive orders! But the existence of any kind of shortage in a market-driven economy should make one’s nose twinkle. One drug shortage might be some kind of freakish anomaly, but 180 crucial drug shortages? The usual suspect in these kind of situations is the dead hand of government, and according to bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel, writing in last August’s New York Times, that’s exactly the case. . . . In other words, government has distorted the market and removed incentives for the production of life-saving drugs. And the New York Times’ readership, unless they somehow recall Emanuel’s opinion piece, are left none the wiser.”

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