America's Medicine Shortage

Lawmakers and doctors are rushing to find remedies for critical shortages of drugs that treat life-threatening illnesses like bacterial infection and several forms of cancer.

What's the Latest Development?


There is currently a national shortage of 180 different drugs that treat childhood leukemia, breast and colon cancer. What's more, many of these drugs are extremely cheap to produce, but therein lies the answer. More than half of the shortages are due to potentially lethal microbial contamination that have been found in the foreign plants which produce many of the drugs. "Others [shortages] have occurred because of capacity problems at drug plants or lack of interest because of low profits, according to the F.D.A."

What's the Big Idea?

As this case of drug shortages demonstrates, a medical industry driven by profit will cut corners at the expense of patients. The hospital buying cooperative Premier has recently received offers from "obscure drug wholesalers" looking to sell drugs in short supply at vastly inflated prices. This happens when speculators buy large quantities of certain drugs, such as those that fight breast cancer, which are produced in limited amounts because their sale value is so low. The shortages are worsened because of wholesalers' large buys and subsequent price gouging. 

Related Articles

How schizophrenia is linked to common personality type

Both schizophrenics and people with a common personality type share similar brain patterns.

(shutterstock)
Mind & Brain
  • A new study shows that people with a common personality type share brain activity with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • The study gives insight into how the brain activity associated with mental illnesses relates to brain activity in healthy individuals.
  • This finding not only improves our understanding of how the brain works but may one day be applied to treatments.
Keep reading Show less

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less