Drug Shortages in the U.S. Reach All-Time High, Including Medications for Chemotherapy, ADHD and Severe Allergies

Pharmacists warn that there are 323 drugs in active shortage, a record high



Drug shortages have reached an all-time high in the United States.

During the first three months of 2024, there were 323 drugs in active shortage, according to data from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and Utah Drug Information Service.

The organizations began tracking drug shortages in 2001 and the previous record was in 2014 with 320 medications in active shortage.

Among the medications affected are 32 chemotherapy drugs, EpiPens, ADHD medications like Adderall, diabetes drug Ozempic, pain and sedation medications, common antibiotics like amoxicillin, and more.

“All drug classes are vulnerable to shortages,” Paul Abramowitz, ASHP’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Some of the most worrying shortages involve generic sterile injectable medications, including cancer chemotherapy drugs and emergency medications stored in hospital crash carts and procedural areas. Ongoing national shortages of therapies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder also remain a serious challenge for clinicians and patients.”

Related: FDA Announces Nationwide Shortage of Adderall



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Increased demand as well as manufacturing and quality problems can cause a drug shortage. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services published a white paper attributing the shortages to “market failures and misaligned incentives.”

The ASHP has been working with the federal government to address the shortages.

“We all know that managing shortages isn’t enough and is not a sustainable solution to the worsening crisis…Much work remains to be done at the federal level to fix the root causes of drug shortages,” Abramowitz said. “It’s long past time to put an end to drug shortages.”

A March 2023 report by the Senate Homeland Security Committee states that a number of drug shortages were an ongoing problem for more than a decade and became more severe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Government data shows that the average drug shortage typically lasts about a year and a half.

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