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Obama’s Drug Shortage Demagoguery

Written on Saturday, November 5, 2011 by

prescription-drugs

President Obama couldn’t wait to trample over the legislative process again. This week, he issued his 98th executive order on an irresistibly exploitatable policy issue: prescription drug shortages. Soon, “One a Day” won’t just be a multivitamin. It’ll be the rate of White House administrative fiats.

Federal officials darkly suggest that selfish industry “stockpiling” is endangering Americans’ lives. “If we find out that prices are being driven up because shortages are being made worse by manipulations of companies or distributors,” the White House further threatened, “agencies will be empowered to stop those practices. And the FDA and the Department of Justice will be investigating any kinds of abuses that would lead to drug shortages.”

As usual, the underlying reasons for these marketplace conditions are gobsmackingly complicated. As usual, a significant portion of the fault lies with the government — not evil corporate “abuses.” And as usual, Obama’s unilaterally imposed “solutions” promise to do more harm than good.

There’s no question that drug shortages exist and that they have been on the rise. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 246 drugs are now scarce. It’s a record. Why? I’ve rounded up just a few of the reasons:

— DEA rules. In some cases, manufacturers have been ensnared by federal Drug Enforcement Administration regulations. Take Adderall, the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medication. As ABC News reported earlier this year, Shire Pharmaceuticals makes Adderall “and is under contract to provide the generic form of the drug to Teva Pharmaceuticals and Impax Laboratories, which mass produce the generic.” According to Shire, their supplies have been hampered by DEA restrictions on the amphetamine-based medications, which are tightly monitored controlled substances.

— FDA rules. According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and other professional organizations, “several drug shortages (e.g., concentrated morphine sulfate solution, levothyroxine injection) have been precipitated by actual or anticipated action by the FDA as part of the Unapproved Drugs Initiative, which is designed to increase enforcement against drugs that lack FDA approval to be marketed in the United States.” These industry experts point to additional new drug manufacturing approval processes that are “lengthy and unpredictable, which limits their ability to develop reliable production schedules.”

— Manufacturing problems and generic drug status. Sterile injectables such as Propofol, a widely used anesthesia drug, are notoriously difficult to make. The timeline is long; interruptions in manufacturing one drug can affect multiple products. Sterile injectables can be contaminated easily. Several batches have been recalled in recent years because of dirty particulate matter found in vials.

Recall and liability headaches have led manufacturers to get out of the business. Moreover, as low-priced generic drugs, sterile injectables just aren’t as attractive to pharma companies already weathering tough economic times. When drugs go off patent, the prices decrease. The rest is elementary.

“If the costs associated with making a drug begin to outweigh the profits,” the New England Journal of Medicine explained, “companies may wish to discontinue production of the drug in favor of a newer, more profitable product. If the number of companies making an older drug decreases, and there is a delay or problem in manufacturing, shortages can and do occur.”

— Bush-era Medicare price controls and Obamacare price controls. Everyone from the free-market Wall Street Journal editorial board to renowned death panelist Ezekiel Emanuel agrees that low prices yield inevitable shortages. President Bush and Republicans imposed a 6 percent cap on cancer drug price increases that took effect six years ago. Health care analyst John Goodman adds that Obamacare exacerbated a separate federal price distortion, which requires drug companies to provide rebates to certain hospitals and clinics “of 23.1 percent for brand drugs; and 13 percent for generic drugs off of their average manufacturer’s price on qualifying outpatient drug use.”

Emanuel, the controversial former Obama health care guru, provided an unexpected shot in the Democrats’ market-bashing arm in a recent New York Times op-ed: “You don’t have to be a cynical capitalist to see that the long-term solution is to make the production of generic cancer drugs more profitable.”

But instead of a sober debate about the wildly divergent reasons for some of these shortfalls, Obama’s perpetual campaign machine gave us taxpayer-funded videos that yank the heartstrings and smear pharmaceutical companies. Instead of an honest assessment of the proposed government “fixes,” Washington bureaucrats are using patients as human shields to disguise new power grabs.

Unfortunately, the only cure for Team Obama’s overdose of toxic demagoguery lies at the ballot box. We can’t wait.

Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com.

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  • Dean

    Obama screws up again. Where does he come up with this crap? Does he lay awake at night thinking up what to screw up the next morning?

    • LarryFrom10EC

      He is a follower of Cloward and Piven. Crashing the system is what they advocate.Also, it’s a part of the liberal strategy to pit one American against another.

    • BRH

      I have noticed that there is no mention of importing drugs.Drug companies had their lobbyist get federal banning put in federal legislation.

  • Pat Sinclair

    I hope you feel proud of yourself Obama. You seem to think that you are in charge of everything that goes on and use your executive power whenever you want. I sure do wish that somebody would do something about your attitude. You have just lied to the people again. You must stay up nights createing what you are going to say tomorrow to make yourself look important. Why don’t put an end to the people out protesting and causing so much trouble and money for the cities where their tents are pitched. Your union thugs are as bad as you are. These people should go home so that the taxpayers don’t have to pay for the cleaning up of the problems they have created. Obama should use your executive power to impeach yourself.

    • The Enemy

      Pat: Obamastein is a self-appointed dictator dealing in soft tyranny. He is a Hugo Chavez wannabe with a similar agenda. He doesn’t care a whit about the Constitution he is SWORN TO UPHOLD! Nor does he need Congress to enact his agenda. And, who will stop him? Nobody, because the Senate is controlled by the Democraps with Obamastein’s fellow outlaw, Scary Harry Reid, “The Pride of Las Vegas” leading them.

  • The Enemy

    The deceiver-in-chief, Obamastein, thinks he can still fool the People with his BS. And, there are still a few SHEEPLE who bow at his feet. But many Americans are waking-up to see he is nothing more than an illusionist with tricks that overshadow Merlin’s. Like the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, he is cleverly trying to fool the gullible no-brain idgits.

  • am2sweet

    I had thought it was the drug companies just wanting to be able to charge more and would withhold producing until they could raise the price. Oh, but, that leads back to Obama doesn’t it when they have to raise the price to pay the extra taxes he wants off companies or they laid off people as they can’t afford to pay the government plus pay people to produce things.

  • LadyLiberty

    Shut the F up Obama and sit down!!!

  • fliteking

    It appears the shortages are due to Gov’t interference.

    Hmmmm, this wouldn’t be a ‘Play for Control’ would it?

    Make the problem, then solve the problem.

    Old liberal parlor trick.

    Provides more footing for Gov’t run healthcare too. Mouth-breathing liberals will think the Gov’t and Obama saved the day.

  • GLEN & MARGE

    THANKS MICHELLE! GOOD TO HEAR YOU AGAIN!
    OBAMA HAS HIS HANDS IN EVERY SINGLE THING TO DISTORT AND DESTROY. HE CAN NOT LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE.

  • Aliqat

    The Baby Boomers are the largest group of people in history. We are starting to retire and a lot of the Obamacrap is going to affect us. We need to stick together, we are the generation that ushered in peace, love and rock and roll! Surely we are large enough to make at least some noise to “rail against the machine”.

  • Force Majeure

    Okay, but what does Obama’s executive order actually do? Malkin doesn’t include this vital piece of information in her op-ed, presumably because it is so totally sensible that a description of the actual order would be so utterly at odds with her hysterical assessment of it. Basically, as far as I can tell, it asks FDA to keep better track of production so that hospitals won’t be caught by surprise when shortages develop.

  • IQ 180

    The Occupy Wall St. People and the DemoCraps will hate this book. Thsi book helps create wealth for anyone that uses these techniques. All the Conservatives need to get there hands on Dr. Williams New/Second Edition of the LandMark Self Help Book “The Law of Attraction and the Subconsciuos Mind.” Go to: http://www.reallawofattraction.net This book is great and get the wealth and desire you want in life.

  • http://Lkpassion CZarina K.

    Who say he ever sleep, the son of evil never sleep. He stay awake to maintain that his follower will continue to ruing this country.