The number of prescription drugs that are in short suppy has jumped considerably in the past couple of years. Pharmaceutical companies are finding that some of their medicines are no longer profitable and are discontinuing them. If you have been on an effective prescription medication for a long time, you might want to ask your doctor if there is any danger of it being in short suppy this year. In 2006 an estimated 70 drugs were considered in short supply compared to last year’s list of 211. That’s more than three times the number of prescriptions in four year’s time. Will your prescription be next?
Many of the shortages are in medications used in a hospital setting. These might include types of anesthesia, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals and even cancer treatments. Federal recalls and production problems, as well as financial causes also are blamed for the shortages. Some doctors have been forced to go to alternative drugs for their patients. Your pharmacy or doctor may be reserving such drugs for patients who are in the most need. The University of Utah Drug Information Service, which keeps tract of shortages, says that nearly 200 drugs are now hard to find.
A growing number of prescription drugs have been recalled by the Food and Drug Administration or voluntarily taken off the market by the manufacturer, the Information Service says. New technologies have also made it easier to detect problems with drugs which adds to the shortage. The pharmaceutical firm which created the original drug whose patent has expired will no longer find it profitable to continue to manufacture and distribute it. The bottom line always wins in the end.