October 21, 2017  Last Update: December 21, 2016, 11:10 pm

Drug Users Debate the Drug Shortage Issue

We continue our series reporting on activities within active online drug user forums, where drug users gather to share perspectives and experiences. For more information about this project, read Reporting on the Drug User Forums.

 

UPDATE:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services addressed the issue at a United States House of Representatives meeting on September 23, 2011. Check out what officials believe the causes of a number of drug shortages are and what they are doing to prevent more shortages.

 

Those who suffer from chronic pain and a multitude of other ailments may be out of luck when it comes to filling their prescriptions. Prescription drug shortages are at an all time high according to the FDA and have nearly tripled in the past six years. But how could this be? Are the raw materials used to create medications actually depleting or are pharmaceutical companies attempting to create a demand for their product?

Posted to an underground drug user forum — CNNMoney reports that the lack of pills is a result of pharmaceutical companies running out of raw materials, focusing their efforts on newer, more popular medications, and recalling large quantities of pills.

But, drug forum users still debate the real reason for the shortage.

I would venture a guess that it is in (almost) direct proportion to the fact that medications are also being prescribed at an all time high. The number of people on prescription meds of all kinds, and especially those in the pain treatment class, has gone up every year and the supply cannot meet the demand.
- drug forum poster

Another forum user mocks the idea of a drug shortage, saying that there are caps for the production of raw materials like the poppy plant, which is used in most prescription pain medication. But these guidelines are not set in stone; medical organizations and pharmaceutical companies can lobby the government to increase these caps and produce more drugs.

Not only can companies and government choose to increase caps, but wholesalers and producers have plenty to go around. One forum user said those in control of the pharmaceutical industry have enough raw materials to make drugs for 10 years if there was ever a real scare, at least according to the National Geographic Channel’s coverage on the issue.

The U.S. isn’t the only nation dealing with drug shortage issues; the United Kingdom is also combating their crop problems. According to one London-based forum user, a fungus called “Poppy Blight” has taken 90 percent of the poppy crop for the October harvest season and is to blame for a lack of resources for drug manufacturers. They were apprehensive of what this could mean for patients who rely on prescription pills.

“It does make me wonder — how will the NHS here continue to treat the pain and chronically ill patients if this poppy drought continues? What would happen then? It’s a scary thought to think that something like pharmaceuticals for pain, etc, are basically being controlled by something/someone ‘out of our reach,’ ” the London user said.

 


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