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Hospital Drug Shortages Reach 10-Year High, Cost Hospitals $200M Annually

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 30, 2011


Currently, drug manufacturers are only required to report drug discontinuances if produces are life-saving and medically necessary, and they are the sole supplier.
Under Klobuchar's "Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act," SB 296, non-sole source manufacturers would have to report such discontinuances, as well as any interruption or adjustment in production resulting from changes in raw material supplies, alterations to production capabilities or business decisions that could affect supply.

Manufacturers would have to give the FDA at least six months notice, or as soon as practicable, and allows for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue regulations that establish monetary penalties for manufacturers who fail to report.

Martin Caponi, pharmacy director for PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, OR, highlighted some of the day-to-day problems created by the shortage.

"We often don't find out that day (that we need the drug) that the drug is not going to be available, so you can imagine the scrambling for the drug and the confusion, which is very counterproductive to high quality patient care," he said. "We're the ones recommending therapeutic alternatives, and we often have to do that in not-the-best circumstances, where we're approaching the physicians that day that we need to make a change in the profile."

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