Shortages of essential medicines, among them generic injectable chemotherapy
agents, are causing increasing concern in the United States of America (USA).
However, the problem is far wider, affecting other classes of medicines
including injectable anaesthetic agents, such as propofol, intravenous nutrition
and electrolyte products, enzyme replacement products and radiopharmaceuticals.
Medicine shortages have also been noted in Australia and Canada. A recent
commentary in a Belgian pharmacy journal claims that the problem is global –
“from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe” – listing 21 countries affected by a variety of
supply problems. A shortage of the injectable antibiotic streptomycin was
reported in 15 countries in 2010, with 11 more countries predicting their stocks
would run out before they could be replenished...