Physician viewpoint: Drug supply chain is still 'dysfunctional, opaque'

The latest shortage of multiple forms of pediatric medications is only a fraction of the swath of drug shortages, Megan Ranney, MD, a professor of emergency medicine at Providence, R.I.-based Brown University, wrote in an opinion published in CNN Nov. 28. 

Among the list of more than 120 drugs on short supply are the antibiotic amoxicillin, flu drug oseltamivir and some formulations of albuterol, which treats asthma and wheezing. Children need specific dosing, but when one point in the supply chain falls, "the system falls apart," Dr. Ranney wrote. 

The FDA has been working to prevent drug shortages for years, but there's little incentive to protect supply of low-profit drugs such as amoxicillin. She said that instead of prioritizing profit margins, healthcare needs to support solutions, such as Mark Cuban's online pharmacy and nonprofit generic drug company Civica Rx. 

"Despite the best efforts to address root causes, we still have a dysfunctional, opaque medical supply chain," Dr. Ranney wrote.

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