Health care providers are feeling the pinch as the country finds itself in the largest drug shortage in modern memory.
Every year there are drug shortages across the country, but this year, more than 200 drugs are in short supply.
The drugs you buy at your local pharmacy are not the ones in short supply, but if you are a cancer patient, victim of a heart attack, or trauma patient, your doctor may have to use alternative therapy during your hospital stay.
Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center pharmacist Clint Rohner says he has never seen the supply this low.
“The good news is they are shortages, not empty shelves,” Rohner said.
Hospitals carry thousands of medications for their patients, but this year, many of the shelves have the initials ?BO? next to them, meaning back ordered.
But just because the hospital is low on one medication doesn’t mean you’ll receive lower-quality treatment.
“The patients who will get the absolute most benefit from them, we are getting them,” Rohner said. “The other patients, we are moving them to alternative therapies, but the actually efficacy for the patient stays the same.”
Rohner said there are three main reasons for the short supply.
One, some manufactures are dropping out of the market as larger companies buy up smaller ones.
Two, there is a short supply of raw materials to make the drugs.
Three, the FDA sometimes stops production of certain products for safety and clerical mistakes.
These reasons, combined with money-saving business efforts, Rohner said, create a bigger problem.
“The modern health care has made it worse,? Rohner said. ?Because what we do is we are used to next-day air, so I don’t keep a month’s worth of supply on the shelf, I keep one day of supply on the shelf. So if my supply is disrupted I’m more fragile, I’m more sensitive to that, and that’s everybody.”
But like all price fluctuations, Rohner said it will balance out.
“As companies are able to wrap up their production, as fines and levies from the FDA go away, as sources for materials show up, those products will be brought back into supply and it will get better,? Rohner said.
Shorter supply means higher prices, and depending on the circumstance, Rohner said, either the hospital, your insurance company or you will be paying for it.
One common prescription drug, Ritalin is in short supply at retail pharmacies, but doctors said there are plenty of alternatives just as effective.