Running out of medications? No pharmaceutical tracking or early waring system in place?
How can we be running out of medication used to treat everyting from cancer to medical emergencies? After 9/11, Anthrax, SARS, and more recently, Swine Flu (H1N1)...how is this possible?
Even more perturbing is the revelation that no early warning system is in place to alert the medical community to an impending shortage?
After nearly ten-years of preparedness,
Its one thing to run out of a medication (or any other resource)...its quite another issue to not see it coming. According to media reports, hospitals are postponing or cancelling surgery and delaying cancer treatments due to the lack of medications.
Pharmaceutical shortfalls have been looming for several years. There seems to be several theories as to why, but no firm explanations. With no definition of the problem or cause it seems unlikely that a solution will be found anytime soon. According to 13WHAM (Rochester, NY):
"U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer says the shortages are unacceptable. He is backing legislation that would direct the Food and Drug Administration to give hospitals and pharmacies early warning when there are shortages of certain drugs. He says that would give them more time to find alternative medications."Legislation (FDA) will not fix this problem. After all the Bioterrorism
Inhalation Anthrax, for example; can be treated with common antibiotics...if you can get them...but what if antibiotics were in short supply? We've already seen how the media, and by result, the public, response to shortages of medications...real or imagined. For a good reminder about how the public reacts when expectations are not met, review this post from May, 2009. The good news is inhalational Anthrax is not transmitted person-to-person. What if another biological agent (naturally occurring or intentional) like Smallpox? Perhaps a novel Type A Influenza and no vaccine production ability would be another good example.
Would we be able to rely on non-pharmaceutical interventions to prevent the spread of disease? How long would it take to recognize a biological event was unfolding?
We've learned nothing from our experiences with SARS and flu. What will we learn from this little bit of awakening? Will we take some action to prepare ourselves despite the pharm/government failures or hit the snooze alarm...I'll bet most people will remain blind to the fact that pharmaceutical shortages and lack of an early warning system has a major impact on Domestic Preparedness.