Why Obama's Prescription Drug Plan Couldn't Wait
1 year ago
The drug shortage impacted African Americans of all incomes directly
There are not enough drugs in the nation. Either that, or there are some seriously overmedicated Americans who are running through drugs faster than companies can make them. President Obama heard the call on mass withdrawal, and this week signed an executive order addressing a shortage in critical prescription drugs, a problem for the past few years.
This latest move by Obama was part of his “we can’t wait” series, where he’s stopped asking Congress what they can do for you ("pass this jobs bill"), but what he can do for you without Congress. Last week he signed executive orders that helped homeowners, veterans in need of jobs, and college students and graduates who’ve been sinking in debt.
While those orders impacted the middle-class, vets, and young people respectively, his executive order on prescription drugs is the one that will most impact African Americans and low-income citizens. And not because these are the people most likely to use drugs, but the opposite – because they are less likely to.
And by drugs, we mean hospital-issued treatments for life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, high blood pressure, and other serious diseases. Many sick people have suffered for months because some of the top drug manufacturers have run out of drugs, and are stretched beyond their capacity to produce more to meet growing demand. At best, it’s led drug companies to flat out tell pharmacies and hospitals, “Hey, we ain’t got it.” At worst, it’s caused some companies to hoard products and drive the prices sky high.
“The shortage of prescription drugs drives up costs, leaves consumers vulnerable to price gouging and threatens our health and safety,” said President Obama about it.
The number of reported drug shortages in the United States nearly tripled from 61 in 2005 to a record-high 178 in 2010. The Food and Drug Administration prevented 137 drug shortages in 2011, but there are still are far too many drugs that are currently off-production. Before Obama signed the order, many pharmacies and drug companies were reporting that they would be out of essential drugs until at least 2012.