Shortage: Hundreds of crucial life-saving drugs in short supply

Prescription drug shortages have increased dramatically in recent years. (Getty Images file photo)

WHAT: In recent years, shortages of widely prescribed drugs have increased dramatically, rising to at least 232 this year. The list includes some of the most common hospital drugs for cancer patients, heart attack victims and accident survivors.

WHY: Causes vary from drug to drug, but pharmaceutical industry consolidation has left fewer manufacturers for many older, less profitable products. When raw material runs short or equipment breaks down, snags can quickly spiral into shortages.

WHAT’S BEING DONE: President Barack Obama ordered the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to require manufacturers to report earlier when they run low on drugs, to speed review of new prescription drug suppliers and get tougher on price fixing.

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