March 22, 2023 -- The United States faces a rising medication shortage that’s so severe it’s causing a national security risk, according to a Senate report released Wednesday.
Drugs in short supply recently include children’s medication, antibiotics and ADHD treatments, says the report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
It says new drug shortages rose by almost 30% from 2021 to 2022.
“Shortages continue to have devastating consequences for patients and health care providers, including medication errors and treatment delays, and in some cases, have led to doctors having to ration lifesaving treatments,” the report said.
Committee Chairman Gary Peters, D-Mich., said Wednesday the shortages peaked at 295 drugs at the end of last year and “have left health care professionals grappling with limited resources to treat patients in need,” NBC News reported.
The Hill noted, “The report also said the average drug shortage lasts about a year and a half, and that more than 15 ‘critical’ drugs have been in shortage for more than a decade.”
The federal government can’t assess the entire supply chain, much of which begins overseas, where many drug manufacturers have moved because of tax incentives and less regulation, the report says.
Peters said the country relies too much on foreign suppliers, especially those in China. He said this “remains an unacceptable national security risk.”
Treatment is being delayed for some patients, and others are receiving medicine that doesn’t work as well. “Some patients, including those with cancer, have faced a lack of alternative drugs,” NBC wrote.
The committee called on Congress to order a multi-department review of supply chain risks to identify security issues.