The New York Times today raises the alarm about serious shortages of drugs needed to treat common forms of cancer and other diseases. A record 180 such drugs have been deemed to be in short supply this year, and lawmakers, doctors' groups, and the drug industry itself are looking for long-term fixes. Among the ideas: Create a national stockpile of cancer drugs, modeled on the CDC's stockpiling of antibiotics.
A big part of the problem is that more contaminated specimens are turning up in inspections. The president of the generic drug company Mylan says it's a symptom of an industry that is consolidating and focused only on profit. “The race to the bottom has led to an increase of products coming from plants in China and India that may have uncertain supply and may have never been inspected,” she tells the Times. She recommends that the FDA inspect more foreign plants. (Read more cancer drugs stories.)