Wednesday, November 16, 2011


In a few prior entries, I poked fun at myself for patting my own back.  But, I tend to find the needle in the haystack when it comes to certain medical news.  I find I am reading things that hit the headlines generally days or sometimes even weeks before I see it splashed across the headlines.  Does this make me smart?  Not really.  I'm just somewhat observant and that trusty iGoogle browser page (filled with all sorts of obscure journals) scours the internet saving me countless hours.  Until, that is, I see a story that intrigues me, piques my curiosity or just plain causes complete outrage.

This falls under the Outrage Category.

Back in August, I mentioned that drug shortage.  Apparently, the better resource for tracking these shortages is found at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.  I don't know why it's a better place to look than the FDA website, but I can come up with my own hypothesis.  I'll keep my opinions on that matter to myself.  You however, are free to discuss.  (Sarcasm aside, the ASHP site is more accurate as it accounts for the fact that drugs are off-labeled. Again however, details?  You will need to read and decipher on your own.  It's too much for me to deal with, particularly when I'm outraged and can't think straight because I'm emotionally amp'd up.)

Today, I see a headline from the American Medical Association stating that the shortage is "disruptive but limited to a few key areas."  I'll stick to my own agenda.  Chemotherapy.  Y'all know (nice Texan twang?).  The drugs that absolutely were key in scrambling my brain.....

On the present list, more than 80% of the drugs are "injectable generics" and there are, according to one spokesperson, four classes of drugs consistently in the top five on the shortage list always vying for The Best in Show, Number One spot.  Oncology is one of the four and at the moment, oncology is "taking the biggest hit."

I quickly scanned the list.  Two of MY cocktail drugs are on the list.  Methotrexate and fluorouracil (5-FU and F- YOU to the manufacturers that are responsible for this mess).  To see someone quoted as saying this situation is "distruptive but limited," is disgusting.

Again, with the numbers.  Why is it that the very thing that causes me the most significant difficulty with my brain mess (numbers), is the very thing that I am trying to explain??  I'll keep my explanation to my second grade math skills so as not to misstate anything.  I might suggest reading it directly.  I have a tendency to miss important points. Especially when I am so outraged that I turn into OCD AM.  I am outraged.  And yes, I am aware I stated this in its very own paragraph...... I am exponentially outraged.

JUST within oncology, this "limited disruption" only has the potential to cause problems for 550,000 cancer patients. Someone might like to explain what reads like a minor inconvenience to the kids of someone's mommy or daddy who may be in that group of over half a million whose very life depends upon the availability of these drugs and the necessity for them to be delivered at set intervals in order for them to be effective.

IF my ability to calculate percentages is still somewhat in tact, 30% of the drugs on this list are made by ONE manufacturer.  Quoting directly from the article, "two thirds of shortage drugs have, at most, three suppliers."  This sounds a little like a monopoly to me.  Didn't I learn back in the days when the dinosaurs walked the planet and I was in a basic high school history class that this government enacted laws to stop anyone from monopolizing an industry?

Buried way down in the article and only worthy of a phrase within a sentence:

"business decisions......often involving a key role in shortages........"

And again, I ask...... can I get the folks making these "business decisions" to visit the floor of ANY cancer hospital to explain this phenomenon to the family of the person donned in the hospital gown lying in the bed?

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