• Sidebar: Frequent Drug Shortages in 2016

    Laura Ramos Hegwer Jul 28, 2016

    “The top five drug classes that are consistently in short supply are antibiotics, critical care drugs, chemotherapeutics, cardiovascular drugs, and essential electrolytes and nutritional supplements,” says Yoram Unguru, MD, MS, MA, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology with the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai and the Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. “It doesn’t really affect one type of patient—these shortages are across the board.”

    The FDA publishes a list of shortages of medically necessary drugs used to prevent or treat a serious condition for which there are no alternatives. A much more comprehensive drug shortage list is published by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

    Many of the drugs in short supply are made by only one or two manufacturers. “If a company experiences a production problem or decides for economic reasons not to produce the drug, the other companies often cannot pick up the slack, and we all feel that pinch,” Unguru says.


    Laura Ramos Hegwer is a freelance writer and editor based in Lake Bluff, Ill.

    Interviewed for this article: Yoram Unguru, MD, MS, MA, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai and the Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

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