Drug shortages in the U.S. have dropped significantly, and more than 125 shortages have been averted in recent weeks, says the FDA.
Since Jan. 1, there have been 42 shortage reports made, compared with 90 a year ago, the FDA reports. There are currently about 120 drugs considered in short supply.
In the kind of logic that federal agencies often use in election years, the FDA is giving an executive order by President Barack Obama credit for cutting drug shortages in half. In October, he ordered drug companies to report any potential for shortages to the FDA quickly so that the agency could take steps to help stave off shortages. In February, for example, the FDA agreed to temporarily allow Sun Pharma to import Lipodox from India to substitute for a shortage of the cancer drug Doxil.
"I am both amazed and delighted to see the progress that's been made," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a blog post. "Early notification to FDA of potential disruptions in drug supply has made a huge difference in our efforts."
Of course, there are many factors that contribute to drug shortages, including how stringent FDA regulators are about problems they observe in manufacturing sites. Manufacturing problems led to 43% of the supply problems reported to the FDA, Bloomberg reports.
And the FDA is not saying that lifesaving drugs are no longer in short supply. The commissioner says the FDA is still working to resolve shortages of such drugs as childhood leukemia treatment leucovorin and the anesthesia fentanyl, Reuters reports. And she notes that her agency is working with Congress on bipartisan legislation to address the ongoing shortage concern.