New AMA policy reflects frustration over ongoing drug shortages

Responding to ongoing national drug shortages that threaten patient care and safety, physicians gathered at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) on Tuesday adopted a policy declaring drug shortages an urgent public health crisis.

Responding to ongoing national drug shortages that threaten patient care and safety, physicians gathered at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) on Tuesday adopted a policy declaring drug shortages an urgent public health crisis. The new declaration strengthens existing AMA policy outlining the physician prescription for a comprehensive solution to ongoing drug shortages. Many of the drugs currently in shortage are everyday products required for patient care in all medical settings, such as sterile I.V. products containing saline or other fluids. Shortages of these basic products, and their containers, increased following hurricane damage to production facilities in Puerto Rico, leaving the health care system scrambling for options that were either limited or risky. In response to hazards that pose a threat to the resilience of drug production, AMA will urge HHS and the Department of Homeland Security to examine drug shortages as a national security initiative. This would result in drug manufacturing sites being designated as critical infrastructure with vital importance to the nation’s public health. AMA calls for greater manufacturer transparency regarding production location and problems that may lead to a drug shortage. Given uncertainty regarding these sites as alternative sources for drugs in short supply, AMA also calls for more information on the quality of outsourcing compounding facilities.