Jensen also said the shortages tend to occur in drugs that aren't "economically attractive." This could mean that only one company produces the drug, making it harder to find alternatives if the supply dries up.
A lot of the problems are tied to generic drugs, health experts explained, because few manufacturers make them and profit margins aren't as high as for drugs still under patent protection.
On Oct. 31, 2011, President Barack Obama signed an executive order designed to help ease the drug shortages. The order directed the FDA to "take action" to prevent and reduce the worsening prescription drug shortages.
Specifically, the order directed the FDA to take steps to require drug manufacturers to report any impending shortages or discontinuances six months ahead of the shortage. The agency should also speed up its review of new manufacturing sites, new suppliers and new manufacturing protocols, and also add more staff to its drug-shortage office, the order stated.
For more on drug shortages, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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