Not Enough to Swallow

On Denialism Blog, Mark Hoofnagle writes that a wide array of drugs, from antibiotics to steroids to diuretics and chemotherapeutics, are in short supply around the country. Hoofnagle explains, "The drugs affected span all classes, what they have in common is they are all generic." Because of the low profit margin on generic drugs, "manufacturers try to cut costs where they can, they export production abroad (and away from FDA oversight), and keep supplies low." Quality suffers, and with only a few companies producing certain drugs, disruptions can have far-reaching (and deleterious) effects. Should government subsidize the manufacture of generic medicine, or take it away from the free market? On Respectful Insolence, Orac covers a far simpler course of treatment: wishing, and hoping, and thinking, and praying. New studies show that alternative medicine is no more effective than a placebo, but one advocate says the placebo effect is proof of the Law of Attraction. Maybe surgical patients can just visualize more anaesthetic? Finally, Abbie Smith cannot believe that the FDA has granted expedited approval for a daily pill to protect against HIV infection. Smith writes that in large clinical trials, "Tenofovir didnt work well at all [...] There is *no* experimental evidence to suggest that is a good idea right now." The drug could actually lead to more new infections—and cause permanent kidney damage.

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Conceptually, having something like The Pill anyone could take every day to prevent HIV-1 infections would be a good idea. Take some kind of preventative antretrovirals when you are sexually active and feel you are 'at risk', maybe prevent some new HIV-1 infections. We had hopes that an…
One problem we have to deal with in HIV-1 world (of the many problems we have to deal with) is that no one is 'cured' of HIV/AIDS (except this guy). So people who are infected go on to infect more people, who go on to infect more people, who go on to infect more people... I mean thats how we *got*…
I really hate blogging on non-published information, but for the second time in as many weeks, we have had interesting information come out of CROI.  This bit of news isnt as exciting. It pretty much confirms my annoyed Debbie Downer stance on using antiretrovirals in non-infected individuals as a…
This issue was brought up by my fellow blogger, Joseph at Corpus Callosum, following an article in yesterday's LA Times. For those not familiar with the concept or countries other than the US where laws may differ, generic drugs are those with the same active chemical as the originally-approved "…

The government should stockpile essential meds and do it with an eye toward stabilizing markets and moderate prices, eliminate shortages, and maintain sufficient stocks to deal with large scale disasters. I suspect that a market that was made more stable and regularized would be attractive to generic drug manufacturers as wild fluctuation are disruptive to low margin businesses.

We already do this, to some extent, with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The intent in both cases would be to knock the edges off any major price or supply shock and to have enough on hand to handle national emergencies.

A Fukashima scale event on the west coast could easily fill every hospital bed and see shortages of even the most basic medications.

Does this mean iatrogenic deaths are about to go down?