What to Do About Drug Shortages

To the Editor:

Re “Drug Shortages Continue to Vex Doctors” (news article, Feb. 11):

When it comes to addressing drug shortages, economic factors aren’t just “a contributing factor”; they’re the main factor.

Most of America’s drug shortages arise in the generics market, where profitability is fairly low. This market can sustain only a handful of manufacturers, so when supply disruptions occur, there aren’t a lot of additional producers (or in many cases any) in the market to pick up the slack.

Drugs that hold relatively stable prices, on the other hand, tend not to experience shortages, according to an October 2011 report by the Department of Health and Human Services. In other words, artificially low prices caused mainly by government programs — ranging from Medicaid to the problematic 340B discount drug program — have caused shortages. Where there’s still a profit, there are rarely shortages.

PETER J. PITTS
Washington, Feb. 11, 2014

The writer, a former associate commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, is president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.
Sign Up for Our Email Newsletter

RECENT NEWS

Baby formula shortage: ‘There is light at the end of the tunnel,’ former FDA exec says

Baby formula shortage: ‘There is light at the end of the tunnel,’ former FDA exec says

Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the ongoing...  Read more

Former FDA official rips Biden over handling of baby formula shortage: 'Smoke and mirrors'

Former FDA official rips Biden over handling of baby formula shortage: 'Smoke and mirrors'

Peter Pitts, a former FDA associate commissioner, joined 'Fox & Friends First' to discuss the Biden administration's hand...  Read more

Peter Pitts speaks to CNN about baby formula shortage
  • CNN
  • 05/13/2022 12:00 AM

Peter Pitts speaks to CNN about baby formula shortage

Former FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts speaks with CNN on the shortage of baby formula on May 13, 2022....  Read more

DRUGWONKS BLOG