Prisons and death-row inmates have brought anesthesia shortages into the limelight recently. The shortage of sodium thiopental--part of the three-drug cocktail used by many penal systems--and then Hospira's exit from the business left prison officials scrambling. Some purchased the drug from a shady operation fronted by a driving school in the U.K. The controversy has caused an increase in the shortage, making it even less available for those who need it for medical reasons. As a result, executions and elective surgeries are being postponed or canceled, and a gray market has grown around the drugs.
Some drugmakers have adopted leaner business practices, says Fox. "They have less resiliency in the event of some supply interruption. Instead of 90 days of inventory they may now hold just two weeks."
Brand-name products sometimes appear to have some built-in manufacturing redundancy. "I've heard of a Big Pharma company that had this in place when they were still producing [the brand-name drug]." But when the generic came along, the capacity redundancy "went away."
- Vecuronium Bromide Injection; Bedford, Caraco, Sun, Hospira, Teva
- Rocuronium Injection; Merck
- Etomidate Injection; American Regent, Bedford, Hospira
- Midazolam Injection; APP, Baxter, Bedford, Hospira
- Cocaine Topical Solution; Lannett
- Propofol Injection; APP, Teva, Hospira
- Bupivacaine with Epinephrine Injection; Hospira, APP