The real cause behind drug shortages

Group Purchasing Organization’s (GPO’s) have been under attack from some in the medical device community that stand to benefit financially by hindering them. For more than ten years, through misinformation about GPO’s, this small group of medical professionals have behaved very unprofessionally by trying to blame every health care crisis, including medicine shortages, on GPO’s.

According to research by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government agencies, GPO’s are not responsible for drug shortages. Documented facts show that problems with production, quality control and difficulties with bringing new suppliers online is the reason for shortages. GPO’s work towards healthy competition in the market to relieve this situation, not make it worse as some would claim.

Contracts with GPO’s are voluntary, not forced, and hospitals are still entitled to purchase off contract if they choose. The savings, administration and business policies of GPO’s have been completely reviewed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office as well as nearly every hospital in the U.S. Apparently, Physicians Against Drug Shortages don’t have the experience needed to successfully manage a supply chain.

Phil Zwieg, the Director of Physicians Against Drug Shortages, has even tried to bully academics whose research puts GPO’s in a more positive light and force them to change their opinions. Zwieg has even gone so far as to try to have them punished by their universities if they don’t cooperate and recant. No, it isn’t any GPO responsible for drug shortages. The answer to that question can be found in those working against them.

Perhaps if Phil Zwieg and his supporters shifted their focus from trying to destroy GPO’s to one of cooperation instead, this problem of drug shortages would fade away. Or maybe not, but one thing is certain. For as long as politics and medicine are mixed, it’s the patient who is going to suffer the most.