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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Why are we Running out of Drugs?

August 27, 2011, 11:30 AM

What's the Latest Development?

What's going on? There are now 198 drugs—including critically needed antibiotics, cancer drugs, diuretics, sedatives, stimulants and vaccines—in short supply in the U.S., something which has doctors and consumers worried. The American Hospital Association said in July that 99.5 percent of 820 hospitals they surveyed had run short of some drug in the previous 6 months, and 44 percent had run short of 20 or more drugs in that time.

What's the Big Idea?

No one can figure out what to do, writes Maryn McKenna, who explains that many of the drugs are made by a single manufacturer, leaving their supply particularly vulnerable to disruption if a raw material runs out or a plant experiences infrastructure failures. Others are made by offshore manufacturers. The best that legislators have come up with is a proposed bill to force manufacturers to at least give advance notice when a drug is about to disappear.


Why are we Running out of D...

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