Drug shortages hurt patient care

Corporate drug manufacturer mergers have decreased the amount of available prescription drugs in the medical field, resulting in problems in overall patient care and costs, according to an employee at the U’s College of Pharmacy.

The college’s drug information specialist, Erin Fox, said profits are the key factor in determining what to produce.

“Manufacturers quit making one drug to process another,” she said.

The shortages have potential to cause delays or cancellations of medical procedures, prolonged patient stays in hospitals and serious medication errors.

When patients that have been using a drug that is no longer supplied, doctors are forced to substitute other medications, which don’t always come in the same dosage amounts, according to Fox.

Also, doctors do not always know how patients will react to the new drug.

Shortages have also affected drug prices because pharmacists are forced to purchase drug products outside of contracts. Some shortages require the use of more expensive alternatives.

Patients are paying 10 to 20 times more in expenses for the same treatment but a different drug because of the lack of supply such as penicillin shortages this year, Fox said.

For example Wyeth’s generic division, ESI Lederle, manufactured many generic injectable products also produced by Baxter.

When Baxter purchased ESI Lederle, the double production ended, and many products have continued to be in short supply during the transition.

According to Fox there are not any laws against the companies discontinuing drugs.

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