“Underneath ‘Crooked Joe’ Biden, there was a catastrophic improve in shortages of important medicines.”
Former president and present Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in a July 24 marketing campaign video
In a latest marketing campaign video, former President Donald Trump blasted President Joe Biden for “a catastrophic improve” in drug shortages.
“It is a mess,” Trump stated within the video, including that new drug shortages have been up final 12 months by 30%, with “295 energetic drug shortages” by the tip of 2022.
The continued availability of lifesaving medicine is a priority on this nation. Stories of shortages of medicines on which many Individuals rely — from extensively used most cancers medicines like cisplatin to over-the-counter painkillers comparable to Youngsters’s Tylenol — have been widespread lately. The shortages have triggered remedy delays or pressured clinicians to substitute alternate options rather than most popular therapies.
However is Biden accountable, or is Trump’s declare an oversimplification?
We contacted the Trump marketing campaign for solutions, however bought no reply. So, we poked round on our personal. What we discovered did not align with Trump’s claims. By some measures, drug shortages elevated extra on Trump’s watch than on Biden’s.
The place to put the blame?
Trump’s statistics have been within the ballpark. In accordance with a March report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Safety and Governmental Affairs, cited within the video’s footnotes, the variety of energetic drug shortages in 2022 did hit 295 on the finish of 2022. The rely was 246 on the finish of 2021, in response to the American Society of Well being-System Pharmacists.
However our calculations recommend the report’s math was off. The report acknowledged a rise of “roughly 30%,” nevertheless it was nearer to twenty%. Likewise, new drug shortages grew from 114 to 160 in 2022, a 40% improve, not the “almost 30%” cited in an earlier model of the report, which Trump apparently relied on.
The Senate panel’s report relies on knowledge from the FDA and the society. The pharmacy group works with the College of Utah Well being’s Drug Info Service to trace drug shortages.
The society’s scarcity data derives from pharmacists’ and sufferers’ stories of provide points that have an effect on how pharmacies put together or dispense medicine, or affect affected person care, usually regionally. The FDA, with its nationwide scope, declares a drug scarcity when demand or projected demand exceeds provide, as projected by drug producers. So, the FDA’s scarcity tallies are certain to be totally different from the society’s. As an illustration, the FDA reported that new and energetic drug shortages grew from 124 in 2021 to 135 in 2022, a 9% improve.
However Biden is not the one president whose administration has contended with rising drug shortages. And his numbers thus far aren’t the worst.
Lively drug shortages grew from 195 in 2016 to 264 in 2019 — when Trump was president. That is a 35% improve, in response to the society’s figures. Throughout Biden’s first 3½ years in workplace, that very same class of shortages elevated 12%, from 276 to 309.
New drug shortages peaked at 267, in 2011, through the Obama administration, the society reported. Some consultants credit score an government order that Obama signed that 12 months directing the FDA to broaden its scarcity reporting as a turning level. Since that 2011 excessive, the U.S. recorded the next-largest variety of new drug shortages — 186 — in 2018, when Trump was president.
The purpose is not that Trump managed drug shortages badly then or that Biden is dealing with them badly now, consultants stated.
“I do not suppose you possibly can tie this to any administration or particular particular person,” stated Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy apply and high quality on the American Society of Well being-System Pharmacists.
Many elements — from pure disasters and manufacturing issues to slim revenue margins on generic medicine — can contribute to shortages. Lingering drug shortages from earlier than the pandemic, “compounded with shortages attributable to covid and poor high quality at U.S.-based firms like Akorn prescribed drugs, have actually contributed to the very giant numbers of shortages we’ve got proper now,” stated Erin Fox, affiliate chief pharmacy officer at College of Utah Well being.
The complexity of treatment provides
For many years, the U.S. has suffered periodic drug and medical gadget shortages. Disruptions at any level within the complicated provide chain involving individuals, manufacturing, applied sciences, and coverage selections can ripple all through the system, inflicting scarcities which will final years.
A Well being Affairs article revealed this previous January described the present system’s complexity. Greater than 20,000 pharmaceuticals and greater than 13,000 services worldwide are registered to make medicine or their energetic elements. Greater than three-quarters of energetic pharmaceutical elements are made outdoors the USA, the authors stated.
Specialists acknowledge that counting on abroad drug producers can result in high quality management and oversight issues, as a result of it is more durable for the FDA to examine crops abroad. For instance, after an FDA inspection final December that discovered quite a few manufacturing issues, Intas Prescribed drugs in India voluntarily suspended manufacturing and distribution of its merchandise that have been destined for the USA. The corporate was allowed to distribute some medicine, together with important most cancers medicine, which can be briefly provide, with strict third-party oversight. Within the video, Trump additionally zeroed in on this concern. He pledged — with an emphasis on minimizing China’s function within the manufacturing of medicines — to return manufacturing of all important medicines to the USA, “the place they belong.”
However the USA experiences manufacturing issues and climate emergencies, simply as all over the place else on this planet does. For instance, Lake Forest, Illinois-based drugmaker Akorn filed for chapter this 12 months and stopped making greater than 70 generic medicine. After a twister hit its Rocky Mount, North Carolina, plant in July, Pfizer briefly shuttered the ability. The corporate stated Sept. 25 that it had restarted manufacturing on the plant.
“Bringing all manufacturing again to the USA not solely is not possible, as a result of we do not have the uncooked supplies, however that additionally creates a reliance on a single geographical space,” stated Soumi Saha, senior vice chairman of presidency affairs at Premier, a big group-purchasing group for hospitals and different well being suppliers. “What you want is international diversification.”
Marta Wosińska, a well being care economist on the Brookings Schaeffer Initiative on Well being Coverage, agreed with Saha — home manufacturing is not a panacea. “Home manufacturing isn’t any assure of getting a secure provide chain,” she stated. “Most shortages are attributable to high quality issues in each the USA and abroad.”
Trump additionally criticized Biden for “shamefully” not following by means of on an government order Trump signed that directed federal businesses to determine methods to maximise home manufacturing of important medicines.
The White Home didn’t reply to questions concerning the standing of Trump’s order. However spokesperson Kelly Scully in a press release pointed to the 5 government orders Biden issued since taking workplace “centered on strengthening the resilience of important provide chains,” together with these for prescribed drugs.
Trump stated there was a “catastrophic improve” in drug shortages beneath Biden’s watch. Trump was right that drug shortages have ticked upward. However Trump’s statements blaming Biden for these shortages are inaccurate and lack context.
Not solely have vital drug shortages elevated throughout different presidential administrations — together with Trump’s — consultants usually agree that there are a number of, complicated, and interlocking elements that trigger them, that means nobody particular person is at fault, not even the president.
We fee this declare False.
This text was reprinted from khn.org, a nationwide newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about well being points and is among the core working packages at KFF – the impartial supply for well being coverage analysis, polling, and journalism.