Senate seeks to prevent drug shortage for hospitals, patients

A U.S. Senate committee has released a bipartisan proposal to address a chronic drug shortage that has been affecting care at the nation's hospitals, according to AHA News Now.

The draft report, issued by the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, would compel pharmaceutical manufacturers to notify the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services of impending manufacturing interruptions or product discontinuations at least six months before they occur. The HHS also would create a special task force to engage in enhanced communications and coordination to head off any anticipated shortages.

Between 2005 and 2010, the number of annual drug shortages more than tripled, rising to 178. In 2011, they increased nearly 50 percent, reaching 267. The drugs in short supply in hospitals range from the relatively benevolent, such as intravenous nutritional supplements, but also include critical chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients, the Connecticut Post reported.

As many as 15 patient deaths at hospitals since 2010 have been tied to drug shortages, and some hospitals have had to confront price gouging in order to replenish supplies, according to the Boston Globe.

For more information:
- here's the Senate draft proposal (.pdf)
- read the AHA News Now brief
- check out the Connecticut Post article
- read the Boston Globe article