Annual drug shortages in the U.S. have nearly tripled from 2007 to 2012, resulting in doctors rationing medications and searching for suitable alternatives, according to a government watchdog agency.
Generic versions of sterile injectable drugs are most commonly coming up short because of aging factories temporarily closing down due to quality problems, the New York Times reports.
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The Government Accountability Office released an analysis Monday that stated the Food and Drug Administration was preventing more drug shortages than it previously did, but that the total number was still growing. The FDA was charged with managing the shortages by a federal law passed in 2012.
The number of drugs in short supply in 2012 was 456, according to the GAO, up from 154 in 2007. Those drugs include the popular heart medicine nitroglycerin.
“We are at a public health crisis when we don’t have the medicines to treat acutely ill patients and we don’t have the basics like intravenous fluids,” Erin Fox, a drug expert at the University of Utah whose data was used in the analysis, tells the New York Times. The most acute shortage now is that of basic IV fluids, she said.
To read the complete New York Times story, go here.
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