Prescription Drug Shortages: Reconsidering The Role Of Medicare Payment Policies

Healthaffairs.org: by Mireille Jacobson, Abby Alpert, and Fabian DuarteMay 29th, 2012 

Concern over prescription drug shortages has recently reached a fever pitch.  The cause for concern includes the rise in the sheer number of shortages — from fewer than 80 shortages in 2005 to more than 250 in 2011 — and the types of drugs affected.  Injectable drugs such as chemotherapy, which are often vital to patient health and have few close substitutes, account for an increasing number of shortages.

Numerous government reports and articles have explored the causes of shortages.  A recent report by the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) pointed to ongoing manufacturing problems, increases in drug volume, consolidation in manufacturing, regulatory burdens in approving new manufacturing sources, and unusually high rates of patent expirations. Read more