Home Health Record High Drug Shortages Impacting Essential Medications in 2024

Record High Drug Shortages Impacting Essential Medications in 2024

The first quarter of 2024 has witnessed an unprecedented spike in drug shortages across the United States, hitting the highest level since 2014. According to data from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the University of Utah Drug Information Service, 323 different medications were reported as scarce, a slight increase from the previous high of 320 nearly a decade ago.

This alarming trend affects a wide range of pharmaceuticals, including critical medications like oxytocin, various chemotherapy treatments, and drugs used for managing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The ongoing shortages pose significant challenges, impacting an undefined number of patients across different demographics.

Historically, from 2016 to 2020, drug shortages have disrupted treatment for over half a million individuals annually, predominantly affecting seniors between the ages of 65 and 85, as detailed in a Department of Health and Human Services report to Congress.

Critical Shortages in Diabetes and Weight Loss Medications

Notably, the diabetes and anti-obesity medication Semaglutide, marketed under names such as Wegovy and Ozempic, has also been affected. The Food and Drug Administration maintains an updated list of drugs currently experiencing shortages.

Paul Abramowitz, CEO of ASHP, emphasized the severity of the situation in a recent blog post, pointing out that generic sterile injectables, which include life-saving cancer treatments and essential emergency drugs, are particularly vulnerable. “These shortages are deeply concerning as they involve essential medications stored in hospital crash carts and used during medical procedures,” he stated.

The scarcity of ADHD medications further complicates the landscape, presenting additional hurdles for patients and healthcare providers trying to manage the condition effectively.

Federal Response to the Drug Shortage Crisis

In response to the growing crisis, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services launched an investigation in February to ascertain whether the practices of drug wholesalers and healthcare procurement companies contribute to these shortages. The investigation aims to determine if these entities are artificially lowering the prices of generic medications, thereby discouraging production and competition.

The HHS has proposed several strategies to mitigate these shortages, which include diversifying supply chains and enhancing market transparency. However, while Abramowitz acknowledges some alignment with the Biden Administration’s recommendations, he expresses concerns about certain proposals, such as penalizing hospitals that fail to comply with new standards.

Abramowitz concludes, “There is substantial work to be done at the federal level to address the root causes of drug shortages and ensure the stability of medication supply in the U.S.”

About The Author

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Kathy Berry

Kathy Berry is professional surveillance camera experts, understand more than 1,000 surveillance cameras, and have a wealth of surveillance camera related knowledge

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