“It was a really frightening and sobering experience,” Andrew tells me. He is a Nova Scotian who suffers from anxiety and who asked not to be identified by his real name. Recently, he had to change his medication due to drug shortages, and he described what it was like not to know whether new medications he tried would work.
“You’re almost swimming in a huge ocean and waiting to see what will come and don’t know whether it will. I can’t even imagine if I couldn’t get access to the medication I need. I know what it’s like to live without it and it’s terrifying.”
Drug shortages are a growing international problem. In Europe, 45% of hospitals surveyed have faced shortages in “life preserving drugs.” Of 8,000 drugs approved for use in Canada, 1,250 have been affected by shortages in recent years. A quarter of Canadians have been directly impacted by a shortage or know someone who has. In the United States, drug shortages cost the healthcare system hundreds of millions annually.
When medication is suddenly unavailable, it exacts a toll in human suffering. Drugs needed for cancer treatment and for surgeries (such as...Read more