Posted on October 31, 2011


Today, President Obama is planning to sign an executive order directing the Food and Drug Administration to take action in reducing drug shortages.

 The executive order is a political tool that allows President Obama to circumvent Congress for quick action. 

 Drug shortages have caused patient deaths and tend to affect cancer drugs, anesthetics, drugs used in the ER, and electrolytes necessary for IV feeding.

 President Obama will also support a legislative measure that requires drug makers to notify the FDA six months before a potential shortage.  Under current law, notification of shortages is voluntary, and drug manufacturers are only required to notify the FDA if drugs are to be discontinued.

 Drug shortages are caused by factors like quality and manufacturing problems, or delays in receiving the necessary tools from suppliers.  Also, drug manufacturers discontinue certain drugs for newer and cheaper ones.

 The most heinous case linked to drug shortages was reported this spring from Alabama.  The health department reported that 9 deaths and 10 injuries were caused due to a contaminated batch of hand-mixed liquid nutrition that was given to patients via feeding tube.  The sterile pre-mixed liquid was unavailable.

 Last week, President Obama also issued executive orders to help homeowners refinance at lower mortgage rates, and another to help college graduates lower their federal loan repayments.

 Information from this article was pulled from USA Today.