Saturday, February 11, 2012

Supply and Demand

So, how many of you have heard of the drug shortages that are going around lately?

Probably not many, unless you need one of these drugs most people aren't much interested. Well, methotrexate is one of these drugs that is now in short supply. In short enough supply that hospitals are panicking about how they are going to treat some things such as cancer.

Vasculitis is also treated with this medication. It is one of the very few approved drugs for managing the symptoms of various forms of vasculitis.

There are only four companies that produce methotrexate (mtx) for the United States and over the past few months they have all said that they are going to "voluntarily suspend production" of mtx due to quality concerns. This has left patients with very few options when it comes to getting the medicine that they need to survive. I know of some people that are trying to hoard it, others are probably thinking about switching to one of the other two medications available to use for keeping vasculitis stable.

The problem with this is that, not all patients have the same reaction to each of the medications. Some people don't do as well on Cellcept or Imuran as they do on mtx. These other two options might not work for some patients.

Now, I am all for increased quality control for the drugs people are given, but I am kind of skeptical of the quality excuse. My skepticism comes from the market. As more people demand the drugs they need to survive, the drugs that they can't live without, the companies are able to charge more. These patients don't have any other option but to pay.

I am of the opinion, paranoid I may be, that if the companies were only concerned about the quality of the drugs they were producing they would have fixed the problem with it by now and would have had production of mtx resumed.

It's not like they were trying to make a completely new drug, they were working on an old drug, a drug that was tried and true, to hopefully improve it. Why has this taken so long?

It is sad that we live in a world where lives are not valued more than someone's ability to make a profit.

I want to keep following this story, I hope I am proved wrong in my paranoid assumptions, but until I am proven wrong they will stand as they are. Please stand up and see what you can do to help with this situation. I don't want to see any more of my friends die.

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