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Drug shortages put Americans in hard spot. What’s on the list?

Dec 7, 2023 | Health News

Senate committee pondering ways to tackle drug shortages, which earlier reports call a health and security risk – By Lois M.

Chemotherapy drugs. Antibiotics. Medication for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. They’re among the categories of drugs that have been in rolling shortages in the United States, putting patients at risk of adverse outcomes and in the case of cancer and other drugs, potentially death.

In a Senate Finance Committee hearing Tuesday, lawmakers investigating what CNN calls a “record shortage of drugs” were told that those most often in shortage are generics and cheap drugs like fludarabine, which have been around a long time.

Stat News reported that committee members think Medicare payment policy could address the shortages.

Some familiar names are among the dozens and dozens of medications on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of those currently in shortage, including forms of epinephrine injection, erythromycin ointment, albuterol, lidocaine, oxytocin and potassium chloride, among others.

“The absence of a generic and cheap drug like fludarabine literally can be the difference between life and death,” said. Dr. Jason Westin, director of the Lymphoma Clinical Research program at M.D. Anderson. Fludarabine is a chemotherapy drug used to treat different types of cancer.

The spate of drug shortages have been going on for years and is unique to the U.S., according to researchers. A Senate report said that shortages increased by nearly 30% in 2022.