Manufacturers mostly mum on drug shortages

ABC News adds its voice to the chorus of those bemoaning shortages of critical drugs but offering no solutions. The shortage of chemotherapy "workhorse" Taxol (paclitaxel) "demonstrates once again how vulnerable U.S. hospitals and clinics are to an increasingly unreliable pharmaceutical supply chain," the news outlet says.

Paclitaxel joins 196 other drugs on a shortage list compiled by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Although no one has been able to quantify the number of lives jeopardized by the shortages, the lengthy list underscores that the country is in the midst of a "public health crisis of drugs," says Cynthia Reilly, director at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

In a phone interview with FiercePharmaManufacturing, Reilly notes that ASHP, the Drug Information Service at the University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics, and the FDA collaborate on tracking drug shortages, although there are differences among them on the definition of certain terms and on the sources of shortage data. FDA gets its data from sometimes reluctant manufacturers, whereas ASHP and UUH&C compile reports from industry users struggling to cope with the shortages.

Reilly mentioned last November's drug shortages summit, which included manufacturers as well as healthcare providers. Manufacturers said only during the summit that they are working to address problems with production lines having the smallest glitches that can't be anticipated, and with the increase in raw ingredients coming from overseas. More details are expected in several months, she says.

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