Patients at Risk: Prescription Drug Shortages in the US | WYPR

Patients at Risk: Prescription Drug Shortages in the US

May 24, 2016

Drug shortages don’t sound like the kind of thing that could happen in the United States. Yet shortages of drugs ranging from cancer treatment to painkillers have become commonplace. The FDA even has a mobile app for shortages, aimed at healthcare professionals. When the supply of a medication runs dry, doctors scramble to find alternatives. They are often less familiar with the substitute drug. It may be less effective. It may have side effects. And in some cases, there simply is no substitute. That means physicians increasingly face an agonizing ethical decision: which patients should receive drugs and which should not? We discuss how physicians are coping with the crisis in our nation’s drug supply. Our guests: Dr. Yoram Unguru, an oncologist at the Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore and a faculty member at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Jesse Pines, director of the Office for Clinical Practical Innovation at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.