US patients at risk from drug shortage

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shortage of "anti-infective" drugs in the US

Drug shortages are a major threat to US patients, according to new research.

US patients are at risk because of a shortage of “anti-infective” drugs, according to research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

These drugs are commonly used in hospitals to prevent infection after treatment. When they’re not available patterns of care change and patients are more likely to get sick–especially now that drug-resistant diseases are becoming more and more common.

There were 193 drugs unavailable in the US when the research was done. 13 of them were anti-infective medications.

Drugs used to treat herpes encephalitis, neurosyphilis, tuberculosis and enterococcal infections have all been hit with shortages. This has forced doctors to fall back on alternative drugs that, to put it bluntly, don’t work very well. For example, there is currently a shortage of sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, used to treat Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (a lung infection that occurs in patients with weak immune systems). This makes it much more likely for these patients to suffer “adverse outcomes” (e.g. death).

Doctors Marc Scheetz and MilenaGriffith said it was difficult to know exactly what was causing the shortage, mainly because drug manufacturers aren’t required to disclose those details. They, did, however, speculate a number of supply-side issues might be responsible: procuring raw materials, processing, distributing, regulatory compliance, market shortages due to epidemics, new therapeutic indications, and perceived shortages.

They recommended all US hospitals should develop strategies for coping with drug shortages. Also that better oversight by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) may help reduce shortages in the future. Please remember to always use any prescription drug following a doctor’s prescription to avoid abuse or mis-use. Anyone who has difficulties avoiding addiction can seek professional help at