Stories

Hospitals are facing mounting drug shortages

An emergency room in a hospital
A hospital emergency room. Photo: Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Emergency rooms are facing severe shortages of commonly used drugs, in part because of problems at Pfizer plants, The New York Times reports.

Details: Shortages of pain medications like morphine are especially severe.

  • Pfizer is the country's largest manufacturer of generic injectable drugs, and these shortages have gotten worse as the Food and Drug Administration uncovered serious safety concerns at multiple Pfizer facilities.
  • The FDA has loosened some of its restrictions in the face of growing shortages, allowing Pfizer to sell some products that normally would have to be recalled.

The issue: These drugs' low profit margins are part of the reason more companies don't manufacture them, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the Times.

  • “We are still in the position of trying to put a Band-Aid on a market that fundamentally hasn’t changed,” he said. “Today it’s one drug, tomorrow is going to be another drug. We’ve got to think of something more holistic and comprehensive.”