Drug Shortages Cause Some Doctors To Use Risky Alternatives

Drug shortages cause many health professionals to use risky alternatives

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), together with health care groups, noted that shortages of injectable drugs have forced doctors to seek risky alternatives or postpone procedures, usually at the last minute. These drug shortages have greatly affected anesthesiology and oncology especially when Hospira, the only maker of Pentothal in the United States, stopped production two and a half years ago. It abandoned plans of continuing production last year. Pentothal has been used to induce anesthesia for 7 decades.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has been tracking drug shortages since 2001. Pharmacists Bona Benjamin, a member of the said organization, raised concerns about the shortage of 150 important and potentially life-saving drugs including morphine, amikacin (an antibiotic that fights bacterial infections), and the common chemotherapy drug carmustine.

Michael Cohen, president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practice, pointed out that there have been reports of patients who died because of unavailability of certain drugs.

The FDA does not require drug makers to report shortages which only made matters worse since no recovery measures could be undertaken on time to meet increasing demands. Drug shortages are commonly attributed to greater demands, delays in production, as well as raw supply shortages.