Why Obama's Prescription Drug Plan Couldn't Wait
1 year ago
The drug shortage impacted African Americans of all incomes directly
Obama's order, which isn't enforceable as law, instructs drug manufacturing companies to report shortages to the FDA much earlier for better response and planning. That’s cool for the future, but it doesn’t help people who are out of drugs today. Which is why Obama also is authorizing FDA to ease up and quicken their reviews of new drug suppliers and creators so that more product can get to hospitals faster.
“President Obama’s whole thing is about the value of government in enhancing the lives of citizens of and there are lots of things the government can do to lessen this burden on patients when drugs are in shortage,” says Dr. Ann Barbre, a pharmacist and the associate dean at the college of pharmacy in Xavier University. “Hospitals end up using other drugs that might not be the first drug of choice, but rather what is available, which may not be the best drug for” treating certain diseases like cancer.
For African Americans, who suffer from health disparities across the board when compared to other races, not having access to drugs is a matter of life or death. Black men are currently twice as likely to have new cases of stomach cancer as white men are; same for black women. Black women are 2.4 times more likely to die from stomach cancer than white women. Black men have much lower five-year cancer survival rates than white men.
Affordable access to treatments are absolutely necessary in black communities.
That affordable accessibility comes mostly in the form of generic drugs, which unfortunately are the kinds of drugs that manufacturers are mostly out of right now. Of the drugs currently out of supply, roughly 74% of them are sterile injection drugs for use in patients fighting cancer, needing anesthetics for surgery, and other emergency and life-preserving treatments. Half of those injectables today are generic prescriptions, which are the kinds most affordable for low-income patients and many minorities. The share of generics of brand name drugs in the market is rising.
But the volume of generics actually available to healthcare providers is shrinking. In the streets, when there are no drugs to buy (weed, recreational, etc.) it’s called a “drought.” Right now there is a drought among the pharmaceutical companies.
A drought, in the street sense, normally comes about because there are only a few, or in some cases one person who control the drug market. If that person or small few run out of product – because they lose their connect (distribution source), or they get arrested, or killed – then the entire system suffers, from lower-level buyers to the customers.
In the pharmaceutical industry, most of the generic injectables market is controlled by just seven manufacturers. The top three of those manufacturers hold 71% of the market, and one manufacturer produces at least 90% of the drug found in most sterile injectables. In other words, they got the block on lock.