(DailyDig.com) – According to news sources, drug shortages in the US have reached an all-time high, and politicians have warned that the situation may make a life-and-death difference for millions of people.
On December 5, the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing to discuss the shortages of critical pharmaceuticals. A House committee is also looking at what Congress may do to help.
The completion of 2022 saw a high of five years with 295 recorded shortages, and a Senate study found that more than 15 medications had been experiencing shortages for over a decade, compared to the average of 1.5 years.
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) said that 84% of the approximately 200 continuing prescription shortages were generic pharmaceuticals that had been on the market for several decades. These generic medications account for 90% of all the prescriptions that are filled in the United States, exacerbating the problem’s effect on the current healthcare system.
Dr. Jason Westin, research director at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, routinely encounters the efficacy of lifesaving cancer treatments. He reminded Senate Committee members that the unavailability of a low-cost generic medicine like fludarabine may literally mean the difference between a patient’s life or death.
According to Dr. Inmaculada Hernandez, a lecturer at the University of California, said the low profit margins of generic pharmaceuticals discourage corporations from creating them. Outsourcing generic production to nations such as India and China might also bring quality-control challenges along with geopolitical ones.
To end drug shortages, the nation’s largest purchaser of drugs, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and bulk buyers such as hospital systems and pharmacies would need to be able to buy based on manufacturing dependability and quality rather than just price, according to Dr. Marta E. Wosiska, a Brookings Institution senior fellow.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) voiced worry about the excessive earnings accruing to intermediaries as opposed to producers. The Senate is presently debating measures to tackle unfair practices called spread pricing, in which pharmaceutical benefit managers bill payers more than pharmacies are reimbursed, pocketing the difference.
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