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Friday, June 15, 2012 - 3:07pm

Drug Shortage Is A Public Health Emergency

The number of drug shortages in hospitals across Georgia and the nation is skyrocketing.

Dr. Joel Zivot , Medical Director of the cardio-thorasic intensive care unit at Emory Midtown, says it has become a public health emergency.

It’s a complicated issue. Some shortages are due to manufacturing problems at drug plants, while some are due to pharmaceutical companies deciding not to make generic drugs because the profit margin is lower.

“It’s hard for me to accept that we don’t know how to make these things anymore, because we do. Or that we really run out of raw materials. It’s really a function of can we reexamine what we were doing before, or what we’ve been doing wrong that has caused a falling off these things, or companies that have made decisions as to why they no longer want to make certain kinds of products. Because that happens too.”

Many of the drugs in shortage are critical drugs used for anesthesia and chemotherapy.

That has led to a delay in needed medical treatment, cancellation of elective surgeries and in some cases patients enduring side effects from the drugs used as substitutes.