The Food and Drug Administration is meeting Monday with representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, hospital officials and consumer groups to figure out what to do about the severe shortage of drugs for critically ill patients under hospital care.
According to an Associated Press review, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices found that the shortages have been blamed for at least 15 deaths in the last 15 months.
In the worst known case, Alabama's public health department this spring reported nine deaths and 10 patients harmed due to bacterial contamination of a hand-mixed batch of liquid nutrition given via feeding tubes because the sterile pre-mixed liquid wasn't available.
Drugs for chemotherapy, infections, pain management and extreme high blood pressure are among those in short supply.
In many cases, hospitals have admitted to meeting drug needs by purchasing medicines on the "gray market," where prices are higher.
- Cynthia Reilly, director of the practice development division for the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, an association that represents pharmacists who work in hospitals
This segment aired on September 26, 2011.