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AMA Adopts New Policy to Combat National Drug Shortages at Semi-Annual Policy-Making Meeting

For immediate release:
Nov. 14, 2011

New OrleansThe American Medical Association (AMA), the nation's largest physician group, today adopted policy to combat national drug shortages that threaten patient care and safety.

"Physicians strive to provide the best possible care to their patients, which means being able to obtain the right drugs at the right time," said AMA President-elect Jeremy A. Lazarus, M.D. "Drug shortages can delay a patient's treatment and may force physicians to use alternative drugs that aren't optimal, leading to an increased potential for errors and adverse outcomes."

In the past few years, shortages of medically necessary drugs have worsened appreciably. In 2010, almost 180 shortages of medically necessary drugs were identified by the FDA, triple the number from 2005.

New AMA policy supports drug shortage legislation, such as H.R. 2245 and S. 296, that would require manufacturers to notify the FDA of any discontinuance, interruption, or adjustment in the manufacture of a drug that may result in a shortage. The new policy also calls on the AMA to advocate that the FDA and/or Congress require drug manufacturers to establish a plan for continuity of supply of vital and life-sustaining medications and vaccines to avoid production shortages whenever possible.

A drug shortage may compromise and delay treatment, leading to progression of disease, adverse outcome, or therapeutic failure. When physicians are forced to use less familiar alternative drugs, errors and preventable adverse drug events are more likely. Health care costs are increased due to clinical hours that are diverted to managing drug shortages and the additional acquisition costs of alternatives.

The AMA's new policy also supports the recommendations of the 2010 Drug Shortage Summit convened by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Clinical Oncologists and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and calls on the AMA to work in a collaborative fashion with these and other stakeholders to urgently implement these recommendations.



Media Contact:

Shannon O'Brien
AMA Media Relations
(312) 464-4443

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