The availability of critical lifesaving medications has become a serious concern across the health care system, including ASCs. Recently, the problem has become particularly acute regarding anesthesia drugs required to perform many surgeries, in particular Versed and Fentanyl.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for coordinating federal responses to drug shortages, the number of drugs in short supply has more than tripled since 2006. However, the FDA was able to prevent over 100 drug shortages in 2011 due to early notification of potential shortages. When the FDA is notified of a potential shortage, they work with the pharmaceutical industry and other stakeholders to respond. Recently passed legislation, the "Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act", seeks to address the drug shortage problem.
If your facility is having problems obtaining needed medications, please e-mail the FDA. Be sure to include the medication in question, including dosage and your location. In addition, please report the shortage to ASCA by e-mailing Jack Coleman. To see which drugs the FDA reports as being in short supply, click here.
If you suspect price gouging, you can file complaints with the FDA and FTC.
For Consumer Complaints, contact the Consumer Response Center:
Online: Use the online complaint form
Phone: Toll-free 877.FTC.HELP (382.4357); 9:00 am to 8:00 pm (EST), Monday through Friday
Mail: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20580
Every state also has an agency or department where you can file complaints, generally with the state Attorney General’s office. Click here to find your state Attorney General’s web site.
To find further background on drugs in short supply, including reasons behind the shortage, as well as potential alternative therapies, please visit the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
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