nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Medication Shortages On The Rise?

Shortages exist in three areas:  anesthetics, pain medicines, and emergency drugs...but only selected ones.

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog (Aug 4) has a post about an increase in drug shortages.
"Shortages occur for a host of reasons, including the unavailability of raw ingredients, FDA enforcement actions that halt production, voluntary recalls, poor inventory ordering, a change in product formulation and even rumors of an impending shortage, which can cause hoarding, the ISMP says. And the group [The Institute for Safe Medication Practices] says “there’s no relief in sight.”
Well, this is hyperventilating a bit.

But there are some concerns.  Epinephrine injectable, used in the ER for a number of emergencies, is one of them.  But if we're short of IV ibuprofen (Motrin)--and we are--then that's not as big a crisis.

My experience is that regulatory changes are the primary reason for drug shortages; this would include FDA actions and the necessity for re-approval if you change any component of a drug.  Second would be recalls.  Last would be hospitals and clinics not anticipating need; they usually are pretty good at tracking usage rates and scheduling re-orders.

You can go to the FDA website and check for what's in short supply at any given time. 

There are always some shortages.  I'm not sure we've seen a dramatic increase that could endanger health yet, but it's worth watching.

Doc D

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