Adderall and monkeypox vaccine represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drugs now in short supply in the United States — some badly needed by patients who are seriously ill with life-threatening diseases.
Pharmacists tell UPI of scrambling to meet patients’ urgent needs amid current shortages ranging from basics like sterile water and saline to antibiotics, sedatives and cancer-fighting medications.
As of Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration reported 184 drug shortages nationwide. The Association of Health-System Pharmacists put the figure higher, tracking a scarcity of 210 drugs.
Conserving the supply of a drug once healthcare providers know it’s going to become scarce may include setting guidelines for the medication’s use and rationing doses, the Association of Health-System Pharmacists’ Ganio said.
That occurred this spring after GE Healthcare shuttered its facility in China that makes injectable contrast solutions used to highlight CT scan image because of local COVID-19 policies.
“As of now, that shortage has been fixed. But the underlying fragility of the system continues … and there is no reason it couldn’t happen again,” Dr. Matthew Davenport, vice chair of the American College of Radiology’s Commission on Quality and Safety, told UPI in a recent phone interview.
The Federal Trade Commission said Monday that it is investigating the causes behind ongoing supply chain disruptions and how they are “causing serious and ongoing hardships for consumers and harming competition in the U.S. economy.”
The FTC said it is ordering Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, other large wholesalers and suppliers including Procter & Gamble Co., Tyson Foods and Kraft Heinz Co. “to turn over information to help study causes of empty shelves and sky-high prices.”
Orders also are being sent to C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. and McLane Co, Inc.
COVID has disrupted supply chains in two major ways: surging demand for imported consumer goods in the West due to pandemic work from home trends and other home improvement spending, and a decline in workers required to maintain and operate these supply chains. The surge in US import demand has led to a sharp rise in eastbound freight rates (see charts for Shanghai->LA and Shanghai->Rotterdam). However, westbound freight rates have not risen nearly as much, leading to an odd and problematic phenomenon: incentives for container owners to move them back to China empty to accelerate receipt of eastbound freight rates, instead of waiting for containers to be refilled to earn westbound freight rates as well. This is illustrated in the fourth chart which shows departing containers from LA/LB: a lot of them started leaving empty once eastbound freight rates surged. This further exacerbates supply chain issues, since US goods (i.e., grains) that were supposed to depart US railcars and warehouses for export remain in place, occupying space that US imported goods were destined for.
Author(s): Michael Cembalest, Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy
Nevertheless, the motivations for outsourcing IMHO are not properly understood. In the auto business, which is typical of a lot of US industry, direct factory labor cost is 11% to 13% of product cost. The offsets against that are greater supervisory and coordination costs (longer shipping times and financing costs, and with that, greater risk of being stuck with inventories related to products that aren’t selling well) and just plain old screw ups due to having more moving parts.
In other words, outsourcing is better understood as a transfer from factory labor to managers and executives, at the cost of greater operational risk.