Experts call on government to act on medication shortages, as desperate healthcare centers work with procurement consultants to shore up supplies Healthcare facilities in the U.S. are reeling from shortages of a number of life-saving medications. Physicians across the nation assert an ever-growing number of many drugs used to treat bacterial infections, cancers and other serious illnesses are in short supply. Analysts contend manufacturers are failing to inform healthcare providers of the supply constraints, leading to increased business costs and endangering patients' lives.

The shortage of more than 200 medications, including commonly used chemotherapy drugs and antibiotics, has increased over the past 18 to 24 months, doctors assert. U.S. lawmakers discussed the drug shortages last week at a hearing on Capitol Hill, where doctors and industry experts asserted government action is necessary to prevent further supply shocks.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices concluded shortages have thus far been faulted for at least 15 patient deaths in the U.S. over the last 15 months. A growing chorus of industry experts, including many pharmacists and doctors, contend the actual figure is likely higher.

The supply constraints are impacting healthcare providers, with many of the nation's premier hospitals affected. Many hospital administrators have incurred increased business costs as a result of the supply issues, as they have had to hire procurement consultants and other experts to overhaul the strategic sourcing of medications.

Healthcare providers often have no forewarning from manufacturers about the supply shortages, according to Cynthia Reilly, the director of the practice development division for the American Society of Health System Pharmacists.

"In a lot of instances there is no advanced notice," Reilly contended. "You order a product, and literally the next day it does not come in and you need it."

Government officials are beginning to heed calls from concerned physicians and hospital executives. Experts have urged lawmakers to enact legislation that would allow the government to stockpile critical drugs.

The number of Americans diagnosed with cancer and other maladies each year is relatively constant, experts say. As a result, many physicians assert the government could do so without spending too much or accruing unnecessary levels of medications.

The shortage of medications is driving up costs for many healthcare providers in the short-term. Hospitals and other medical centers throughout the U.S. are increasingly working with third parties to procure the drugs, but such companies often increase prices by more than 600 percent, a precipitous uptick insurance companies – and often, the government – must cover.

Reilly asserts reports have circulated of injections normally purchased for $30 soaring to more than $1,500.

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