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The President is siccing his always trustworthy and ever-so competent Attorney General Eric Holder on the pharmaceutical industry.
With an Executive Order, Obama assigned the Justice Department to “undertake whatever enforcement actions…it deems appropriate” to regulate the supply of medications. In other words, the industry is seen as guilty unless proven innocent.
From time to time, some medicines have been in short supply for medical caregivers and patients. Treatments for cancer, infections, cardiovascular troubles, and central nervous system problems are particularly in short supply currently.
With a flurry of activity and press coverage to indicate Obama is trying to show he cares that patients shouldn’t die waiting for drugs that could prolong their lives, “the Executive Order, however, “will aggravate the conditions causing the shortage,” The American Spectator reported Nov. 4.
Obama’s Executive Order tells the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to look for potential drug shortages and the Justice Department to seek out possible collusion or price gouging (which Obama always suspects from the private sector).
In other words, pharmaceutical companies will be “suspected of criminal activity if they work together or raise prices in ways that—to FDA or DOJ lawyers—seem illegal,” the article added.
Meanwhile, shockingly, the government is buying for $433 million an experimental smallpox drug from a major donor to Democrats and Obama at a time when we face the shortage of cancer-fighting drugs.
The beneficiary of the smallpox deal is Ronald Perelman, a billionaire controlling shareholder of Siga Technologies, Inc., which makes the experimental drug.
As much as Obama wants to keep campaign money rolling in, the plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug makes absolutely no sense. Smallpox was eradicated in 1978 and is known to exist only in locked freezers in the U.S. and Russia. There’s no credible evidence, according to a Los Angeles Times story Nov. 13 that any other country or terrorist group has smallpox to use as a weapon.
If such an attack should occur, the story said, “the government could draw on $1 billion worth of smallpox vaccine it already owns to inoculate the entire U.S. population.” The vaccine costs the government $3 a dose and can prevent any fatalities.
As for current drug shortages, a report issued Nov. 14 said that most of the drug shortages are in four key areas. “Supplies of other scarce drugs are either stable or have improved, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, a global research organization.
The drug shortage problem is highly concentrated. More than 80 percent of the products are generics and injectables, the study said. “While representing a small part of the overall medicines market, affected products include critical drugs to treat cancer, infection, cardiovascular disease, central nervous system conditions, and pain.” The study also said “Total supply volume for many impacted products has been stable or growing.”
The IMS Institute determined that of drugs believed to be scarce, manufacturers reported stable supplies of 56 drugs and increasing availability of 31 drugs, but 75 products have declined in the past five years.
Reasons for shortages, the IMS study found included manufacturing problems, discontinuations and suspensions of production, inability to meet demand, raw material problems, and contamination or other quality issues. Some drugs are still awaiting FDA approval. There is a misconception that the main problem is older unprofitable generics. The IMS study pinpointed manufacturing problems to be the main reason for shortages.
If companies were allowed to pool resources, (and not be charged with collusion) the production times and costs could go down.
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