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Diabetes and anti-obesity injections are among the 323 medicines experiencing shortages in 2024.

Drug shortages have reached a record high in the first three months of 2024.

In the first quarter of the year, 323 drugs were running low, surpassing the 2014 high of 320, according to data provided by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the University of Utah Drug Information Service.

Since 2001, the groups have tracked shortages using voluntary reports from practitioners and patients that are confirmed by drug makers.

Both basic and life-saving drugs are in short supply, from oxytocin and chemotherapy medications to prescriptions for to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications. The data does not explain how many patients are affected.

From 2016 to 2020, the average drug shortage impacted more than half a million consumers, with many being older adults ages 65 to 85, the Department of Health and Human Services shared in a report to Congress last May.

Diabetes and weight loss drugs among shortages

Popular diabetes and anti-obesity injection Semaglutide, better known by brand names like Wegovy and Ozempic, are currently facing a shortage, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has listed the numerous medicines currently under deficiency.

“All drug classes are vulnerable to shortages. Some of the most worrying shortages involve generic sterile injectable medications, including cancer chemotherapy drugs and emergency medications stored in hospital crash carts and procedural areas,” ASHP CEO Paul Abramowitz said in a blog post Thursday.

Abramowitz added that the scarcity of ADHD medications also pose a severe challenge for patients and clinicians.

FTC and HHS are examining shortage crisis

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services announced in February that they will investigate whether drug wholesalers and companies that buy medicines for health care providers are partly responsible for the shortages. The departments will examine whether the groups have cut the prices of generic drugs to prevent manufacturers from profiting, to halt production and to discourage rival suppliers.

HHS outlined recommended efforts to help prevent supply shortages like urging drug makers and hospitals to invest in diverse supply chains and encouraging transparency in the market.

While Abramowitz said some of the Biden Administration’s recommendations align with the ASHP, the group has “serious concerns” about aspects of the plan, including a proposal that would penalize hospitals unable to meet them.

“Much work remains to be done at the federal level to fix the root causes of drug shortages,” he said.

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