Monday, February 01, 2016
The New York Times reports on widespread rationing in hospitals of drugs, some once regarded as standard treatments:
In recent years, shortages of all sorts of drugs -- anesthetics, painkillers, antibiotics, cancer treatments -- have become the new normal in American medicine. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists currently lists inadequate supplies of more than 150 drugs and therapeutics, for reasons ranging from manufacturing problems to federal safety crackdowns to drugmakers abandoning low-profit products. But while such shortages have periodically drawn attention, the rationing that results from them has been largely hidden from patients and the public. [links dropped]The story focuses more on the difficult decisions this situation creates than on causes, but regarding manufacturing, it does mention a curious bottleneck:
Many drugs are made by only one manufacturer, so production or safety problems at a single plant can have big effects. For another company to begin making the products and getting them approved by regulators requires the right combination of manufacturing capabilities and economic incentives.As regulars here may know, the fact that a drug has only one manufacturer is quite often due to government regulatory practices. This fact deserves mention since, with the advent of ObamaCare, the conventional wisdom will call for even more government meddling to solve this problem.