I was made aware of a serious problem with drug availability to consumers and health care institutions recently. My youngest daughter is allergic to milk and cheese which requires her to have an epipen available at all times and have an epipen available at school.  When I recently went to refill her perscription from the pharmacy, I was only permitted to get 1 pack of epipens. Each pack has 2 pens in it so we need two, one to carry and one to leave at school.  I was told by the pharmacist that there was a shortage of epinephrine emergency syringes so we were only able to get one at a time.

Today I was reading the health section of www.msnbc.com and found an article that really peaked my interest, "When vital drugs run out, patients pay the price". The article discussed the drug shortages that exist today and how these shortages are putting the health and welfare of the U.S. population at risk. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the majority of drug shortages are caused by manufacturing issues, safety concerns, and production delays. The article stated that there are 150 drugs currently on the shortage list by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. I went to their site, www.ashp.org, and found that in fact there are 150 drugs on the list, and the issue is so prevalent that there is an article titled, "ASHP Guidelines on Managing Drug Product Shortages in Hospitals and Health Systems," posted on their site. 

Over the last year, I've noticed a shortages of drugs that are essential to my practice and now the shortage has affected me at home.  Unfortunately, the FDA does not have the authority to ensure that pharmaceutical companies produce adequate supplies of drugs. There has to be a change in the pharmaceutical drug supply chain to fix the drug shortage issue.