KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Drug Shortages A New Way Of Life In Providing Care; Lawmakers Call For Investigation

As health care facilities struggle to keep inventories of key medicines, some are resorting to risky practices. Meanwhile, six members of Congress seek a GAO probe of pharmaceutical contracting to see if it has hurt generic drugmakers and added to shortages.

The New York Times: Drug Shortages Persist In U.S., Harming Care
From rural ambulance squads to prestigious hospitals, health care workers are struggling to keep vital medicines in stock because of a drug shortage crisis that is proving to be stubbornly difficult to fix. Rationing is just one example of the extraordinary lengths being taken to address the shortage, which health care workers say has ceased to be a temporary emergency and is now a fact of life. In desperation, they are resorting to treating patients with less effective alternative medicines and using expired drugs. ... the shortage has prompted Congressional hearings, a presidential order and pledges by generic drug makers to communicate better with federal regulators (Thomas, 11/16).

Medpage Today: Buying Groups' Role In Drug Shortages Queried
Six members of the House of Representatives have called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate whether contracting practices by hospital purchasing organizations are an underlying cause of ongoing shortages of generic drugs. Specifically, the six want to know whether group purchasing organizations (GPOs) have designed exclusive contracts for drugs and devices that have had detrimental effects on generic drugmakers -- potentially leading to drug shortages and an increased reliance on compounding pharmacies (Fiore, 11/16).

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