The battle against cancer is tough enough without now adding to it the shortage of medicines that can cure some symptoms of this terrible disease. In this case, the drug is one that doctors say can cure up to 90% of childhood leukemia and many other types of cancer.
Hospitals are unable to do much to fix this dire problem while the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with drug manufactures to resolve the crisis.
Unfortunately, the current shortage with Methotrexate is all too common. There were 267 instances of still-unresolved shortages of medicines registered last year. In many cases the problem rests with manufacturing deficiencies, which lead to production shutdowns.
Other times, however, production is slowed down or halted as a strategy to increase the price of a product that is commonly sold as a generic drug and isn’t as profitable as it used to be. Drugs save lives. As well, whether we like it or not, drug manufacturing it is big business with profit margins and stockholder demands.
The current system is extremely vulnerable and leaves little room for the FDA to act effectively. President Obama has given the agency more authority to confront the challenge, but it is still not enough.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) has introduced legislation to require manufacturers to report shortfalls of all medicines to the FDA as opposed to today, where drugmakers are required to notify the FDA of shortages only in scarce drugs for which they’re the only supplier.
The death of a patient froma curable disease due to lack of medicines is unacceptable in a society as wealthy as ours. Shortages are a possibility of the market, but we must be better prepared to address this when the drug in question is a medicine that can save lives.