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General Health Channel
Reported November 7, 2012

Drug Dilemma: The Patients

Baltimore, MD ( Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Critical drugs are coming up short all over our country. Doctors are being forced to put patients on treatments that don’t work as well as potentially life-saving drugs.

"The pain was overwhelming, " Carole Nelson Pond, told Ivanhoe. "The clerk said, I’m sorry we are out."

Every time Carole walks into a pharmacy, she knows she might not get the medicine she needs.

Ii had to go to 12 pharmacies," Carole said.

She takes 30 milligrams of oxycodone every six hours to manage the intense pain caused by spinal stenosis.

"If i don’t have the medication my body will go into withdrawal," Carole said.

Oxycodone and other controlled substances like the ADHS drug Adderall are becoming harder to find… because

"it is abuse able and its recognized as being abuse able on the streets," Dr. Peter Preganz, a pain management specialist, explained.

Many believe the Drug Enforcement Administration’s yearly quotas on the production of controlled substances are causing these shortages. The DEA blames manufacturing and distribution problems, but the agency did vote to increase the quota for some drugs in 2013. Oxycodone will see its quota increase by 25 percent.

Meanwhile, there’s a much bigger problem nationwide. Short supplies of more than 260 drugs. Pharmacist Bona Benjamin says patients are paying the price.

"It is very stressful to deal with a diagnosis of cancer, but imagine adding on top of that the fact that the drug you need to treat your disease is not available," Bona E. Benjamin, B.S. Pharm., director, medication-use quality improvement at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said.

Carey Fitzmaurice has stage three ovarian cancer.

"I was put on Doxil. My blood numbers were as low as they have ever been," Carey told Ivanhoe.

But after just four injections of Doxil, her hospital ran out of the drug and she was forced to switch to a less effective treatment.

"Nobody knew at the time why. It was an extremely confusing situation," Carey said.

Nine months later Carey was finally able to get back on the generic form of Doxil when the FDA allowed temporary importation from a factory in India, but she says the fight’s not over.

"How can we make sure they are going to remain available?" Carey said.

Last year alone, more than 500 thousand cancer patients were told they were not going to get the treatment they needed. Carey’s become an advocate to help patients like herself cope with shortages.

"I will continue to speak out about the issue," Carey said.

Meanwhile, Carole wonders how she’d handle not having her medication.

"I have been nervous right up until today," Carole said.

It was filled this time.

"There will be the end of next month and again I will hope to get the same response," Carole said.

Experts say with planning, patients might be able to avoid problems due to shortages of their medications. Talk with your doctor about the current state of your prescriptions and discuss what other treatment options are available if they are affected by shortages. to find out if a drug you need is in short supply or no longer available...you can visit http://www.ashp.org/shortages.

 

More Information

Click here for additional research on Drug Shortage Dilemma: The Patients

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Bona E. Benjamin

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at amcintosh@ivanhoe.com

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