6/2014, Drug Shortages: The Scary Reality of a World Without Meds


A Shocking Epidemic

It seems unfathomable in our high-tech medical system, but in 2007, 154 drugs were in shortage, a number that almost tripled to 456 in 2012, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Threatening medical-care options and patients’ lives, drug shortages have occurred in almost every pharmaceutical category. Antibiotics, cancer drugs, anesthesia, pain control, reproductive and gynecological drugs, cardiac medicine, psychiatric drugs, and intravenous-feeding solutions have all been in varying degrees of short supply or not available at all. Recently, nitroglycerin, an emergency room staple used to treat heart attack patients, has been in such severe scarcity that its sole U.S. manufacturer has restricted hospitals to 40 percent of their usual orders. A study published this March in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings attributed more than 15 documented deaths since 2010 to either lack of treatment or the switch to an inferior drug as a result of medication shortages…

Medicare reform imposed certain price controls on generic drugs, but, due to a loophole, these controls are lifted if a manufacturer stops making the drug for six months…

Predatory middlemen are making the situation even worse. A congressional investigation led by Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, has found that shady secondary wholesalers buy up drugs in shortage and resell them, often at exorbitant prices. This explains, in part, the haphazard ebb and flow of the shortages that makes them particularly hard to handle: One day the medicine is just gone, but there’s plenty the next…

Shortages are leading hospitals and patients to get drugs from less regulated and potentially less safe sources, such as drug compounders…

In a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 83 percent of oncologists and hematologists said they’ve faced cancer drug shortages, and of those, nearly all said their patients’ treatment had been affected by drug shortages…

Even the FDA has been boxed into a corner. After the cancer drug Doxil became unavailable in late 2011, the FDA made an emergency provision to allow an Indian generic-drug company, Sun Pharma Global, to temporarily export a similar generic drug, Lipodox, which is not approved in the United States. Although patients and doctors applauded the move, Sun Pharma has faced repeated past FDA sanctions for poor quality. (In 2009, U.S. marshals raided its U.S. manufacturing plant and shut down production.)…

Powerful painkiller shortage (FL)


An effort to crackdown on illegal prescription medicine is keeping necessary drugs away from those who need them

“Pharmacists recommend going back to your doctor and seeing if he can recommend another pain medication.”

1/7/2014, Crack down on pain killers forcing shortage at pharmacies


Travis Howell, 26, is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to where his wheelchair can take him.

“I have 18 open bed wounds, five of which I can feel,” Howell said.

To cope with the daily pains, Travis depends on the roughly 200 Oxycodone pills he is prescribed by his doctor every two weeks.

“I know it’s a lot… Sounds like a lot. But there’s nothing else me and my doctor can do. We’ve tried everything from getting shots in my back to morphine — which I found out I’m allergic to,” Howell said.

On Monday, Travis tried to get his prescription filled at a nearby CVS Pharmacy but was rejected.

“All she could say was ‘I don’t feel comfortable’ and hung up the phone on me,” Howell told News 4 Tucson…

“There are patients out there not getting the medications they need because the supply is not there,” said Greg Rogan, of the Medicine Shoppe, a locally-owned pharmacy.

It’s a reality that all too obvious for Rogan, who said his shop has been cut off from its supplier of Oxycodone.

“We still get people calling everyday asking ‘can we get it?’ and can we fill their prescriptions… unfortunately, I had to stop taking any new pain patients on back in April,” Rogan told News 4 Tucson.


12/6/2014, Painkiller abuse more likely for those who skip college

Nonmedical use of powerful narcotic pain drugs (for example, Oxycontin) was reported by 13.2 percent of those who did not graduate from high school, 13.1 percent of those with a high school diploma, and 11.3 percent of those in college…

The researchers also looked at abuse of prescription stimulants (such as Adderall) and found the opposite results: Stimulant misuse was more common among college students than among those who weren’t in college.

About 70 percent of all young adults in the United States enroll in some form of college education, while 30 percent do not…


10/20/2014, Southern Nevada doctors change prescriptions after painkiller reclassification


Dr. Paul Michael, an oncologist with Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, wrote a new prescription this week for one such patient, an elderly woman who was turned down at her pharmacy when she tried to obtain her regular drug containing hydrocodone.

The woman has other pain relievers to control chronic pain associated with her cancer treatment, Michael said, but the hydrocodone pills were effective when she experienced breakthrough pain, a more severe flare-up with a sudden onset that normally lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.

Because the woman faced the prospect of having nothing extra for her breakthrough pain, Michael prescribed methadone.

“This problem is especially severe in the cancer world because our patients need these medications so long term,” Michael said. “Our patients might need these medications for months or years.”

Federal regulators say there is no shortage of actual product. Jeff Ventura of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that any delays in patients receiving their medications can be attributed to logistics behind the rescheduling rules.

The Nevada Board of Pharmacy has received calls from all over the state from people unable to fill their prescriptions, David Wuest, deputy executive secretary of the Nevada Pharmacy Board, said…

The situation is worse than at any time in the nearly 40 years Forman has been practicing medicine in Southern Nevada.

Forman was told one pharmacy chain in Southern Nevada arbitrarily reduced its inventory of hydrocodone products by 30 percent to lessen the risk of being caught up in any regulatory action…

First, what I’m about to say should not be construed as a call for gun control. But I find it ironic that we live in a country where over 31,000 people are killed with misused guns each year while, at the same time, some bureaucrat can make it much more difficult and expensive, if not impossible, to buy needed medications because less than half that number of people die from opiate misuse.

Iraq Veteran, Now a West Point Professor, Seeks to Rein In Disability Pay


As he paced back and forth in front of the soldiers, some of them leaning on crutches, Colonel Gade said that too many veterans become financially dependent on those monthly checks, choose not to find jobs and lose the sense of identity and self-worth that can come from work.

“People who stay home because they are getting paid enough to get by on disability are worse off,” he said. “They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They are more likely to live alone…