Nation’s prescription drug shortages decline, FDA says

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 21, 2012

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The number of new U.S. prescription drug shortages has decreased by more than half from the same time in 2011, according to Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

There have been 42 new drug shortages reported in 2012 compared with 90 new shortages at the same time the previous year, Dr. Hamburg said in a May 3 post on the FDA’s official blog (link).

She credits the improvement to the executive order President Obama issued in October 2011 that directed the FDA to require manufacturers to report drug discontinuances in advance.

Since that order was issued, there has been a sixfold increase in early notifications from manufacturers, and the FDA has been able to prevent 128 drug shortages, Dr. Hamburg said

Despite the improvements, shortages remain a serious problem, according to the FDA. For example, the cancer drug leucovorin for injection has been in short supply for some time, Dr. Hamburg said. There also have been shortages of anesthesia drugs, such as benzodiazepines and fentanyl injections.

The FDA is working with Congress on legislation to expand early notification of drug supply problems that could cause shortages.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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