The FDA issued an alert this past week that shortages of drugs, which reached a record high in 2010, are rising at an even greater pace in 2011. Me, I’d never heard of a “drug shortage.” Penicillin has been in short supply from time to time. Flu vaccines were also scarce a couple years ago during the H1N1 scare. They ramped up and made more, but by then everyone had moved on and they had to destroy millions of doses.
The FDA announcement, however, says that that number of drugs in short supply has tripled in the past 6 years, from 61 in 2005 to 178 in 2010. “The shortages involve cancer drugs; anesthetics used for patients having surgery; “crash cart” drugs used in emergencies; electrolytes for patients being fed intravenously; and other drug products.”
And what happens if you find yourself without a medication that you need? Good luck. The FDA basically instructs you to work with your doctor to find a suitable alternative. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has a whole site devoted to the shortage, listing all the drugs. One of them, amazingly, is alcohol prep pads. Huh?
I guess the lesson for today is, stay as healthy as possible so you reduce your risk of needing a drug that may not be available.