Providers face severe drug shortages of heart attack, pain and cancer drugs

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Physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers are facing unprecedented drug shortages, forcing provider pharmacies to ration remaining supplies for drugs used for heart attacks, severe pain, cancer and infections.

Approximately 211 drugs were classified as “scarce” in 2010, The Washington Post reported. There were 89 new shortages in the first three months of 2011. Shortage have been caused by a number of reasons, such as the consolidation of drug manufacturers and a shortage of raw materials, which are often transported from overseas. Of particular concern are shortages of the painkiller morphine, which is often used in hospices.

The Food and Drug Administration says the problems in shortages stem from manufacturing issues. Lawmakers in Congress have introduced a bill that would require drug makers to inform the FDA in advance of a possible shortage.