U.S. hospitals experiencing drug shortages

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Many U.S. hospitals are struggling to find chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics and other lifesaving treatments amid a growing nationwide drug shortage crisis.

According to a recent survey published by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, one in three U.S. hospitals is severely affected by drug shortages. Many hospitals say they’ve skipped, delayed or rationed medications, including critical cancer drugs, as the crisis across the country continues.

Nearly all hospitals in the survey said patient care is affected in some way. Now experts are calling on the federal government to take action.

The types of drugs hospitals are short on include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Oral liquids, like ibuprofen and amoxicillin
  • “Crash cart” drugs used in medical emergencies
  • ADHD medications
  • Injectable opioids

We spoke to the Director of Pharmacy for Mayo Clinic Arizona, Jeff Betcher, to better understand the crisis.

“It’s been very difficult and challenging for patients and healthcare systems alike,” Betcher said. “This is the first time we’ve seen over 300 drug shortages in quarter one.”

Hospitals experienced shortages to this extent in 2011 and 2014.

“What’s different today is that many of these drug shortages in the past were short little bursts of quick drug shortages and then it would resolve,” he said. “It’s not resolving as quickly anymore.”

Many of the drugs are generic brands, and their manufacturers are requiring updates and upgrades, causing shortages.

Betcher believes Congress should get involved with policy changes to find a way to get more of these drugs manufactured in the United States.

Jeff Betcher, Director of Pharmacy for Mayo Clinic Arizona

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