Making sense of drug shortages

More than 7 billion people call the planet Earth home. Each of these humans have, or can benefit from amazing advancements in medical science. One of the most beneficial types of advancements is the ever-evolving diversity of prescription medications. These medications treat everything from the flu, to a host of horrible diseases.

At times, there are notable shortages in the availability of certain drugs. This affects the ability of pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and community health organizations to distribute certain drugs consistently. Whenever a shortage occurs, there is an immediate response to place blame on a particular organization. The first type of organization to incur undue blame is the GPO.

A significant percentage of modern drugs are produced in laboratory facilities. These facilities must adhere to strict governmental and trade standards that do not always match the pace of human need. When a drug shortage happens, it can be caused by any number of triggers.

First on the list is batching. This is especially pertinent when it comes to drugs that are meant to combat viruses. Many times, there are only a few designated producers of patent-compliant drugs available that have the job of distribution. Though these producers work at maximum efficiency, their output does not match need. This is a natural and practical reason for some drug shortages.

Another reason for drug shortages resides in the legal arena. Court orders issued by judges with a penchant for interference in the world of medical manufacturing can create a blockade for drugs that are ready to go to market. These are not necessarily orders that are outcomes of lawsuits, but rest solely on the whim of activist judges who interfere with common market behaviors.

The most misguided believe in the cause of drug shortages is the work of GPOs. Many people believe that group purchasing organizations create scarcity in the prescription drug market. This is statistically untrue, and groups like Physicians Against Drug Shortages led by Phillip Zweig have falsely accused GPOs of such. The vast majority of GPOs purchase supplies of drugs that are already marked for distribution. This means the drugs are immediately distributed where they are needed most. GPOs also regularly recycle huge orders for patented drugs if their buyers do not come through. This means the supply of certain drugs remain fluid on the market, and can be distributed without any form of perceived monopolization.

GPO inclusion in the prescription drug industry is extremely important because it guarantees that drugs will be available in the most highly populated networks. No statistical evidence has proved that GPO involvement in the drug industry has ever created a shortage in a popular and effective medication type.