Drug Shortages

Denis Morrice

Heads Up – Look out!

Drug Shortages are destined to get worse. Consider Teva the largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer in the world is in the process of cutting 7,000 jobs and closing or selling 15 factories. Add to this the large number of mergers and acquisitions which of course impacts competition with consequences of higher prices and drug shortages.

This issue is incredibly serious when one considers that access to medication is just as important as access to Doctors and hospitals. There hasn’t been a public outcry simply because a drug shortage doesn’t affect everyone at the same time but instead an arthritis group one time, then an epilepsy group, then a cancer group, etc. The cost of drug shortages is quite staggering – imagine the time of professionals especially Doctors and Pharmacists as they deal with patients; the number of Federal, Provincial government committees, the number of hospital and LHINs committees – all trying to address the issue and yet no one group is responsible.

We obviously need a direct line to Ghostbusters!

Clearly a fresh look at regulations governing the pharmaceutical industry is needed. It has been noted that the FDA Drug Shortage website is quite comprehensive but is not the real solution.

In the meantime the ORA needs to establish a SWAT team that immediately addresses an arthritis drug shortage: notice to members, suggested alternative medication, engaging OPDP and CLHIA members in order to have immediate temporary access to the alternative medication that may not be on the public or private payer formulary list.

Denis Morrice
Executive Director, ORA