In recent weeks, news stories about cancer drugs in dangerous short supply have been capturing headlines across the nation. But few people know that cancer drugs are not the only vital drugs in short supply.

Nationwide, hospitals and ambulance companies have had to ration supplies of hundreds of medications used to treat common injuries.  Some of the most commonly used drugs in short supply are:

  • Midazolam & Valium—used to treat seizures
  • Morphine & Fentanyl—used to treat pain
  • Zofran—used to treat nausea and vomiting
  • Benadryl & Epinephrine—used to treat allergic reactions
  • Mannitol—used to control pressure in patients who have head injuries

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, paramedics who work for Medstar are using drugs past their expiration dates in some cases, because they simply do not have a stable supply of the medicines.  While the drugs can be made by local pharmacists, they typically do not last as long as those provided by the drug companies.

Attempting to address the shortage, President Obama signed an Executive Order just last year in which he directed the FDA to prevent and reduce the number of drug shortages that have been growing over the past few years. 

Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these drugs have cut back manufacturing significantly, arguing that they make little profit on these common drugs.  But the Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether some of these pharmaceutical companies are creating artificial shortages in order to increase demand, and therefore, increase prices.  If pharmaceutical companies have been illegally price-gouging or stockpiling medications, they could face criminal charges.

For now, the FDA is taking steps to protect consumers and prevent price gouging by instituting early notification requirements of potential drug shortages.  Unfortunately, this may be another case of big pharma putting profits before patients and consumer safety.

To learn more about the pharmaceutical industry, download my FREE ebook Prescription Drug Safety: 7 Secrets the Pharmaceutical Industry Does NOT Want You to Know at