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Drug shortages causing pains for patients, hospitals

Drug shortages causing pains for patients, hospitals

By Randall Jeppesen | Posted - Nov. 9, 2011 at 12:55 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A long list of prescription drug shortages is making treatment of some diseases more of a pain.

If you look at the list of drug shortages on the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists website, there have been problems with everything from Adderall to black widow antivenin.

Manager of the University of Utah drug information service Erin Fox says there are only a handful of companies that make most of the drugs.

"We are only talking maybe five or seven companies, and if you look back, all of those companies have had manufacturing problems over the past five years. So when problems pile up one on top of the other we end up with drug shortages," Fox said.

Fox also said there is also the theory that drug companies are seeing shortages because they aren't investing in new equipment in their manufacturing plants where the less profitable drugs are made.

For people seeking Adderall, Fox said to call around - you'll probably find it, but it takes time and sometimes a change of prescription strength.

Fox said the biggest shortages are injections and generic drugs most commonly used in hospitals.

Two bills have been introduced in Congress to try and get the FDA and the drug companies working together at a quicker rate to identify and solve drug shortages.

President Obama also recently signed an executive order asking the FDA to step up its role in preventing shortages as well as moving the approval process for drugs at a quicker pace. The President's order also wants a crackdown on price gouging when drugs become in short supply.

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