300+ Drug Shortages Affect U.S. Is Yours on the List?
Drug shortages may have fallen out of the mainstream news headlines lately. But they certainly haven’t gone away. Drug shortages have become a daily reality for hospitals around the nation and the patients that need them.
According to the FDA, there are nearly 300 different drug shortages now.
In fact, things are so bad that in recent months, hospitals even had a shortage in saline.
Saline! That’s the basic ingredient in an IV. It’s absolutely critical to patient care.
Shortages Have Become Routine
A pharmaceutical coordinator at a major hospital recently described her experience with drug shortages. She pointed out that just over a decade ago, shortages of even a single drug were rare.
Now, drug shortages are a daily conversation in hospital pharmacies. Every day, pharmacy workers plan around strapped supplies of multiple drugs, trying their best not to compromise patient care in the process.
It’s a constant juggling act. One that increases treatment errors, causes treatment delays, and raises hospital costs.
At this time, the bulk of shortages affect hospitals. Generic sterile injectable drugs including antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, anesthesia, and drugs for cardiovascular disease consistently top the list.
How to Protect Yourself
It’s a smart move to contact the hospitals in your area. Find out how they manage drug shortages. Before anyone in your family ever gets sick, know which hospital is most on top of these problems. Make that your hospital of choice should you need care.
It’s a smart move to contact the hospitals in your area. Find out how they manage drug shortages here. Before anyone in your family ever gets sick, know which hospital is most on top of these problems. Make that your hospital of choice should you need care.
You Personal Drug Shortage Plan
Currently, drug shortages mostly affect hospital patients. But you should also prepare for shortages of more everyday prescriptions.
Protect your health by taking a page out of the hospital pharmacists’ playbook. They restrict access to certain drugs — only those with a clear need are given a prescription for drugs in the shortest supply. For critical life-saving drugs, they build a backup inventory to prevent treatment disruptions. And wherever possible, they look for alternative treatments.
Apply this to your own healthcare plan with two easy steps.
- Review all your options before turning to a prescription drug. Have a detailed conversation with your doctor about lifestyle changes and natural supplements that will improve your health. If a prescription is the best option to protect your health, ask your doctor about setting a goal to reduce your dosage and dependence on the drug. This won’t be possible for every type of condition. But it is a realistic scenario for many common diseases. Review the different drug options with your doctor. Look at shortage histories for each, so that you can make an informed decision.
- Talk to your doctor about building up a supply of your prescription. Having a three-month reserve (or more) protects you against shortages due to supply issue or other causes. Many doctors will be willing to write a 90-day prescription, especially for medications meant to treat a chronic condition.
Beware: In some states, governments are making it more difficult to build up a supply of your prescription medication. For example, in Pennsylvania, lawmakers are considering a law that would require all patients enter into a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Until now, this tool has been used exclusively by law enforcement to track criminal behavior associated with prescription drugs.
Be prepared to go across state lines if necessary to get a reasonable supply of the drugs you need to protect your health.
Finally, you may want to look into alternative treatments for your condition.
Doctors regularly prescribe prescription drugs to treat heart disease and diabetes. A variety of natural treatments exist for both diseases. These natural remedies can work well with your prescription regimen, and may even reduce your reliance on drugs. Certainly, they can help to protect your health in the event that you aren’t able to refill your prescriptions because of a shortage.
It’s important to understand the potential danger these drug shortages could cause, and to take steps now to improve your health. Better overall health is the best way to prevent these drug shortages from affecting you or your loved ones.
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