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Gov't, drug makers meet on drug shortages

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. government convened a meeting of stakeholders to discuss solutions to the current drug shortages affecting patients nationwide, officials say.

After the meeting, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said there was no quick solution that solves this critical public health issue and addressing it will require a multifaceted approach.

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In 2010, there were 178 drug shortages reported to the FDA, but this year, there are increasing number of shortages, especially those involving older, sterile, injectable drugs involving cancer drugs, anesthetics, drugs needed for emergency medicine and electrolytes needed for patients on intravenous feeding.

"All parties involved in the supply of drugs to Americans have a responsibility to make sure patients have access to the drugs they need. There are many factors that contribute to drug shortages, and FDA will soon release a report which reflects an important analysis of the problem and recommendations with respect to its role," Hamburg and Koh said in a statement.

"Promising solutions are also being rigorously examined. One suggestion is a mechanism for manufacturers to report impending supply disruptions and discontinuation of drugs, which could help to curb drug shortages and improve the continuity of the drug supply."

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Hamburg said the FDA will continue its efforts to work with manufacturers to ameliorate shortages.

There are many reasons for the shortages including production delays at the manufacturer often due to delays in receiving raw materials -- often from out of the country and often due to contamination, FDA officials said. Discontinuations are another factor contributing to shortages.

The FDA has scheduled a public meeting Sept. 26 on the issue.

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