Experts say there is no solution to the drug shortage in the United States, which affects Adderall, Ozempic, and more than 300 medications.
The shortages result from unexpected manufacturing problems, a spike in demand, and tightened supply lines. This has led to treatment delays, medication changes, and other inconveniences for patients and doctors.
According to the University of Utah Drug Information Service, there were 301 national shortages during the first quarter of 2018. This figure is 49 per cent higher than the 202 drug shortages reported in the first quarter of 2018.
The pandemic has exacerbated the shortages of prescription drugs, which have existed for many years.
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Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that Adderall, a medication used to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), was facing a shortage due to a manufacturing problem. Other stimulants used to treat ADHD were also affected.
As the pandemic fueled demand, shortages have also affected the availability and supply of injectable medicines used in hospitals. These include IV saline as well as some cancer treatments.
According to a report by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
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During the same period, national health restrictions and the pandemic forced health offices to close. Regulators allowed doctors to issue prescriptions without seeing the patient first, increasing demand.
According to IQVIA’s data, the number of prescriptions for Adderall, and its generic counterparts, increased by at least 20 per cent between February 2020 and the end of last year. Meanwhile, supplies were running low.
Ozempic is a diabetes treatment that is prescribed to lose weight. According to IQVIA, the health data company, prescriptions for Ozempic have doubled in the last two years. Celebrities and social media personalities have praised it widely.
The price also affected some drugs, as patients did not consider alternatives because they were too expensive.
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Ozempic, a drug for diabetes, is available in various strengths. Semaglutide is the same medication sold under Wegoby. It can cost more than double as much as Ozempic.
Stephen Schondelmeyer is a professor at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy.
According to Erin Fox, a researcher at the University of Utah Health, a lack of profitability is another factor. Companies need to be incentivised to store and make large quantities in case of a shortage.
She said that once a shortage begins with a product you made just in time, it is easier to solve it once all suppliers return.
Finally, the international supply lines are squeezed as most raw materials for American medicines come from factories in China and India.
India, for instance, limited exports of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to protect its domestic drug supply during the COVID-19 epidemic.
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The companies have stated that they don’t get enough raw materials to produce the drugs. This could ease the shortages. The federal government claims that companies do not use the raw materials available.
Fox stated that “there’s been lots of back-and-forth finger pointing.”