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What’s Behind Prescription Drug Shortages?

The explosion of prescription drug shortages is plaguing hospitals and patients. What the heck is going on?

At hospitals across the country, "scoring drugs" has taken on a new meaning. Hundreds admit buying medicines at exorbitant prices from "gray market" dealers taking advantage of, and possibly exacerbating, a record shortage of life-saving prescription medicines. (AP)

At hospitals across the country, "scoring drugs" has taken on a new meaning. Hundreds admit buying medicines at exorbitant prices from "gray market" dealers taking advantage of, and possibly exacerbating, a record shortage of life-saving prescription medicines. (AP)

American health care may be ruinously expensive and leave millions out, but at least it’s the best in the world when you can get it, we’re told. But that now depends if you can get the drugs the doctor ordered.

The U.S. health care system is suffering a plague of shortages of prescription drugs. Cancer drugs, antibiotics, nutritional treatments. Not exotic drugs, but drugs you might need. That people need right now. Drugs that aren’t so profitable anymore, so somehow just don’t get made. Now people are desperate. We’ve got drug theft. A gray market.

This hour On Point: why the drug shortages?

-Tom Ashbrook


Jennifer Corbett-Dooren, Food and Drug Administration reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

Michael Link, President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Michael O’Neal, Pharmacist and Head of drug procurement at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Wells Wilkinson, staff Attorney with Community Catalyst, a national consumer advocacy organization advocating for a greater consumer voice in health.


There are currently 213 drugs in short supply nationwide, according to government statistics. It’s the result of a complicated series of factors that have kept some of the most-needed drugs from the patients who most need them.

“These are very common drugs, chemotherapy drugs, anesthesia drugs, drugs used in critical care units,” said Wall Street Journal reporter Jennifer Corbett-Dooren. “These are typically not the drugs that would be in short supply at the pharmacy counter.”

Many of the drugs that are in short supply are generic drugs that have been on the market for decades, she said.

What is means for doctors is a reduced ability to treat the seriously ill. “These are drugs that have been the mainstays of curative cancer treatment,” said Michael Link, President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “We can now cure almost 80 percent of children with cancer. But without these drugs, our hands are tied.”

“This is really a crisis for us,” Link said.

Michael O’Neal, pharmacist and Head of drug procurement at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, agreed sand added that the shortage has been a long-term problem. “This is something that we’ve been dealing with for more than two years,” he said. “It has hit every corner of the hospital and it’s really created a lot of operational issues and safety concerns.”

Since many of the drug shortages stem from problems in factories overseas, some critics have called for greater government oversight. “We need to improve the FDA’s [Food and Drug Administration] overseas presence,” said Wells Wilkinson, staff Attorney with Community Catalyst, a national consumer advocacy organization advocating for a greater consumer voice in health. “40 percent of finished drug products come from overseas.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Probably to their great disappointment, President Obama’s critics cannot blame this rationing on death panels or health care reform. Rather, it is caused by a severe shortage of important cancer drugs.”

NPR “Drug shortages mean a growing number of Americans aren’t getting the medications they need. That’s causing drug companies and doctors to ration available medications in some cases.”

Food And Drug Administration “Current Drug Shortages: The information provided in this section is provided voluntarily by manufacturers.”

Wall Street Journal “Cancer-drug shortages in the U.S. have caused hundreds of clinical trials to be stopped or delayed, threatening progress on new treatments, a top health official told Congress Friday.”

Here And Now “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.”

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  • Roy Mac

    This is supply management.  It has nothing to do with production or delivery costs, only Pharma’s desire to maximize profitability from extant products.  No drug company will ever seek to cure disease:  maximum margins from keeping patients with chronic symptoms alive.  There will never be another Salk vaccine.

    • Hidan

      Simply put, Shortages/scarcity of drugs lead to higher profits margins,

      any good drug dealer knows that.


    • Tina

      The doctors may not be able to “cure” my cancer, but they HAVE been able to keep me alive for many, many, many more years than would have been expected in the past!  In the 1960′s, I’m guessing that I might have lived 7 months with my diagnosis; I’ve had 7 extra YEARS so far because proper treatment was out there for me, plus, my health insurance is there to help me (altho the Republicans try to make health insurance look like an imposition — Yikes!!!!)  Cancer might be the daily regimine that it is for me, but I am much, much, much better off than I would be without these drugs, even if I am NOT 

  • Hidan

    “What’s Behind Prescription Drug Shortages?”

    U.S. laws preventing citizens from going to Canada and at home to get the generic versions of the same drugs.

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    This is sad, scary, bad business and just plain wrong !

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    This is sad, scary, bad business and just plain wrong !

  • Anonymous

    What’s Behind Prescription Drug Shortages?
    You have to be kidding. Big Pharma, what else.
    It’s more of the same circus that is created by the corporations to maximize profits at the expense of people. It’s that simple.

  • Cory

    I’m sure we just need to lessen their corporate tax rate and the burden of government regulations and everything will be fine.

    • Anonymous

      @e533c71f78b04b5363a41d402415bf87:disqus Exactly! (Sarcasm noted!) Giving them money with NO “RESPONSIBILITY” would have NO effect on their push to further maximize profits by cutting manufacturing corners and manipulating the market. Maybe the granting of drug “improvement” patents should REQURE the establishment of a line to produce some of these drugs in shortage.

      But the granting of a new patent MUST be made contingent on being better in a trial than the current best drug or effective on people not able to take the current drug.

  • bob

    We are told our free market will get us the best price and we pay more for our presciption drugs than anyone else in the world. Then we go to CVS and they ask for a donation when we buy something. The drug companies are charging top dollar to the military for the drugs used in wars on our dime and again, the CVS donations are asking to support the troops.

  • Yar

    Shortages are nothing new, look at the development of Penicillin, The challenge of mass-producing this drug was daunting. On March 14, 1942, the first patient was treated for streptococcal septicemia with U.S.-made penicillin produced by Merck & Co.[25] Half of the total supply produced at the time was used on that one patient. By June 1942, there was just enough U.S. penicillin available to treat ten patients. 
    What was the response of the US ?  Government grants to build fermentation capacity proved crucial to getting companies involved, not the absence of patent incentive on the chemical structure. The armed forces agreed to fixed contracts to buy penicillin as it was produced. The government thus induced innovation by supply-push (subsidy for manufacture) and demand-pull (guaranteed market).
     Another option for government action – patenting the chemical structure and backing up exclusive property rights – was not used in this case. 

    Could our divided Government ever take on such an project today?  What would happen if some company or individual found a cure to diabetes?  A cure needed by many.See Chart below, http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/PUBS/statistics/images/DMStats2011-Chart1.jpg
    We must change the way we manage production of drugs and take control of the patent process to meet the needs of our citizens.  When a company restricts a drug or prices it out of reach for the majority of patients, then the US Government should take control of the patent and contract to produce the drug.  Currently are there incentives to find the cure for diabetes?  Looking at it from a drug company prospective, I am not sure there is.  President Eisenhower’s speech on the industrial military complex could certainly be applied to the pharmaceutical industry.

    • LeftField

      Thanks for the lecture.  What does your example have to do with market conditions and the implemented ‘drug shortages’ today.

      • Cory

        Leftfield is wearing his/her “crabby pants” today.

      • Yar

        Where the free market does not provide, the US government should take control.  Health care is not like entertainment, where demand and price can find a balance.  Healthcare should be treated more like a utility, with control on price and distribution, designed to meet the needs of the public.  The US patent system should be used where the public trust is violated,  such as selling a product off label, instead of fines, take away the patent rights and lease them to another company to produce the product.  Hold companies accountable from plant to mouth for safe and proper use of the product.  We spend almost 20 percent of GDP on our health, we must take actions that lower those costs while providing better care, I used an example from history to show that as a people we can make a difference.  Are we willing to do the same today?

        • RealityCheck

          What you describe is fantastic, but unrealistic:

          Hold BigPharma accountable for selling pills that barely have the efficacy of placebo?
          Hold an industry accountable that creates Billions of dollars of profit off of our tax-dollar-funded NIH research?
          Have our government responsible for overseeing ‘plant to mouth’ distribution, when the FDA is completely infiltrated, bought and paid for by the very industry they are supposed to regulate?

          You know what the biggest killer of people in our country is?

          Health care.

        • Anonymous

           Applause, again!

    • Anonymous

      Nice work, Yar, and thanks!

  • JustSayin

    Maybe China is having trouble reprocessing their toxic wallboard into phoney pharmaceuticals bound for the US. Maybe officials are asking for larger bribes?

    …or maybe some drugs just don’t have sufficient ROI, even when they made in China. One thing is for certain, there will never be a shortage of erection drugs.

    The excuse will be too many regulations and safety concerns.

  • AC

    I’m not aware of this problem at all? I’m on several steady medications and haven’t had any issues, is it specific drugs only? Or the more common ones?

  • Adks12020

    Supply and Demand. The more scarce a needed or desired product is the more it costs.  Seems pretty simple to me.  Drug companies definitely arent hurting forcing them to reduce production.  They are just in total control of the market…very similar to oil companies and OPEC.  They have what we want so they set the price and control the supply.  We, the consumers, have no choice but to accept it or not consume their products.

  • AC

    The rarer the disease the less interest in curing it, by everyone ‘big pharma’ and my neighbor…. or do you anything for rare disease day?

  • Alix

    Working in a local oncologist’s office, I have seen first hand what the shortages mean: we can’t get magnesium to counteract the effect of the  platinum-based drugs given for lung and head and neck cancers. We are on several waiting lists to get leucovorin, paclitaxel, and a few others.  And yes, I have had pharmacies from Canada and England call, offering wonderful prices on drugs for which we pay exorbitantly here, and a steady supply of the scarcer drugs too.  Yet, I can’t legally buy from abroad.
    The reasons seem many: recalls, no money in generics, only so many manufacturers, retooling.
    The other effect of these shortages is an increase in prices, yet the reimbursement by insurers, including Medicare, does not change accordingly.  So shortages, do not lead directly to an increase in Health Care costs, but reduce the net income of a small facility which in turn can’t survive, may close, and your local cancer care disappears. 

    • ManyReasons


      How about the lack of ‘free market’ competition and the lobbying strength of BigPharma?

      How about an international old boy network running a protection racket for there own benefit?

      How about an industry that has nothing to do with health or curing disease and everything to do with profits from little pills?

      How about a dilapidated system run by competing consortia and cartels about to collapse on itself all the while profiting immensely from illness, pain, misery and suffering? 

      • Dave in CT

        Thats right.  And what party(s) coddle big pharma and prevent organic competition and instead produces crony markets that can’t respond appropriately to real economic signal?

        This is the libertarian argument 101.  It not about no laws and rapacious profits, its about letting the market do its job.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like we have a systemic problem here. Is this akin tp the oil industry, which has not built a new oil refinery in 35 years, in part because the job of there leaders is not to meet demand, but maximize profit by balancing supply, demand and what the market will bear. How much more of this lunacy will patients have to bear before definitive, effective action is taken? 

    • Anonymous

      @MadMarkTheCodeWarrior:disqus  Your facts are correct, but the reason the oil industry has not built a new refinery in the U.S. is that it is a LOT cheaper to modernize existing ones, and just about every one HAS been modernized. ExxonMobile takes great pride in being the MOST EFFICIENT oil company in the world.
      Certainly the requirements for controlling emissions from such plants is not trivial, but ANYONE who has driven the NJ Turnpike from 20 to 50 years ago knows the revulsion (and hidden health costs) the released fumes create. Even today when regulations are much stricter, the fumes are much, much lower but not nonexistent.

  • Chris B

    It has plenty to do with the fact that congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry, which is in itself one of the most corrupt, incestuous enterprises the world has ever seen  Anyone remember Billy Tauzin, the rep from Louisiana, who was responsible for “crafting” the legislation that established the Medicare D prescription drug program, in such a way that Medicare was forbidden to negotiate prices with the manufacturers the way the VA and Public Health Service do, so Medicare just had to accept whatever price the mfrs. quoted?  Mr. Tauzin was rewarded with a $2M a year job as head of PhRMA, the industries lobbying organization.  Malfeasance, anyone?

    The pharmaceutical industry stinks to high heaven.  At least crack dealers are honest about what they do!

    • William

      So they are more, same or less corrupt than the green lobby? or perhaps organized labor? or NEA or ABA or AMA, Wall Street, Insurance, etc..etc…etc…they are all pretty much corrupt and that is just a fact of life.

      • Chris B

        The pharmaceutical industry is more guilty of immediately and personally gouging the man in the street by holding his life and health hostage than the ones you mention, followed closely by the insurance industry.  At least the others don’t rend their garments and wail how their only interest is curing illness when in truth it’s nothing but the bottom line this quarter. If they actually benefit any patients it’s merely incidental to making a profit and “improving shareholder value.”  Phooey.

        • William

          Perhaps, but it was not the pharmaceutical industry that put us in this economic mess….that was banking and government….of course shareholder value matters..do you work for free?

      • Cory

        So we should just throw up our hands and do nothing.

        • William

          Pretty much yes…can’t worry about things you can’t change..just understand your place in society and deal with the corruption…

    • Dave in CT

      Fannie Mae.

      Find the Barney Franks and Chris Dodds of the Big Pharma world and tar and feather them. Tauzin.

      But people here seem so gullible.  Oh, drugs are good, housing is good, so corruption of those markets by politicians looking to buy constituencies is good!

      • Chris B

        Did you see Tauzin when they had him on 60 Minutes?  He was actually smug about having screwed the country for his own benefit.  He tacitly admitted it!  I have never seen any pol so shameless.

  • Dave in CT

    Demand for drugs?

    Sounds like jobs.

    Make generic drugs.

    Isn’t that how economics work?

    Naw, lets look to Washington to fix this for us.

    • Anonymous

      What is the point of this kind of statement?
      Does it do anything positive? No. Does it answer anything? No
      Does it deal with real issues? No.

      So what’s the point? Government has to be involved in this arena and should be. The Obama administration blew it by letting this industry write it’s own ticket. 
      Get real, without regulations you have drugs that made people sick, that were diluted or worse. 

      • Dave in CT

        Pure BS.

        When was the last time a Big Pharma company went bankrupt and the CEO put in jail for recklessly pushing bad drugs.  Never.  If we did, they would be sure to be careful and watch their a-s.

        Why are people so afraid of punishing malefactors?

        Have any heads rolled from our Financial Fiasco yet? No.  Madoff red herring.

        But we have Dodd-Frank, sleep easy.

        CRAP!  I don’t want a Dodd-Frank, the guys who helped deliver our destruction with Fannie Mae subsidy and protection (Frank) and putting Insurance and Investment banks on Bailout list in the 90′s (Dodd).

        I want Wall St coke-heads in jail for life!

        • Anonymous

          What are you saying? Do you comprehend what people write?
          It appears to me that you do not.
          I did not comment on Dodd-Frank, which is crap, but I did not see anything but you blaming government for this problem.
          They need to be held accountable and that’s it. 
          Blaming them is a waste of time, we already know our government is so dysfunctional that it does not work. So how about moving on to trying to figure out how to fix this. Or just do nothing but come on hear every day and bitch.

    • nj

      Dave’ s posts have become a bore.

      • Dave in CT

        Like those of you and TFRX that throw out one liner criticisms and imply you have all the answers, while never providing a glimmer of the mechanistic rationale for your world view.

        Just complain and attack.

  • Natalie

    You want to blame someone for the shortage in drugs; blame
    the government and regulations that do not foster healthy environments for innovation
    and mass production. Copy right laws for basic non orphan drugs last about 3
    years. After that time, the company that originally made that product looses
    all profit. Tell me what other industry could even survive like that let alone sustain
    in global competitive markets. Also, many drug companies don’t even get to
    price their own drugs- that’s right the government agency’s tell them how much
    they are allowed to charge patients. All of these are unknown facts to the consumers
    and patients; they’re the dirty little secretes that Washington likes keep so
    they can play blame game on big pharma when they need a skate goat for

    • Cory

      Darn right!  The free market is the only solution to what ails us.  Remove the shackles from the free market and watch us all rocket into prosperity!

      • Dave in CT

        Cory, your full of one liners implying socialistic sympathies, but why not spend some time explaining how your magical, centrally-planned economy works to provide for the ever-changing wants and needs of the population.

        • Cory

          I definitely don’t have all the answers.  I’m probably not even the smartest person living in my home.  I do have the undying belief that there is a better way to do things if we just think and try.

    • Dave in CT

      Good luck converting the well-intentioned cronies here.

  • Dave in CT

    Maybe we are recognizing how ALL crony capitalistic operations are ruining our economy.

    Can we handle that and enforce the Rule of Law to allow real competition without Washington protections?

    Or do we just need Washingtons Fed Buddy to print enough money to pay the exorbitant prices our lack of competition breeds?

    Debt? What me worry, socialism is more warm and fuzzy.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      What kind of economic system would encourage a company to make generic drugs that don’t make a big profit for the shareholders?  This may be a place for public-private cooperation.

      • Dave in CT

        You sound like a Wall St protestor!   You are entitled to crony-size profits?!

        Make the drugs, add a profit margin to pay salary and maintain the plant, and hope you can compete against offshore manufacturers.

        Now we supposed to give up on honest work?

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          And when the shareholders demand a higher return?  That’s how the current system works.  Are you arguing for a revolution?  Good luck getting one’s medicine while it’s on.

          • Dave in CT

            Try a private company.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            A mom-and-pop drug company?  Uh huh…

          • Dave in CT

            So you are either a multinational corporation or mom and pop?  Where do you come up with this stuff?

            There are private businesses.

          • nj

            I’ve been using Bob’s Better Aspirin for years!

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Some of those old patent medicines were strong stuff–it’s a wonder what hidden cocaine and opium can do.

          • TFRX

            “Don’t be disappointed! Look for the label that promises ’50% More Lithium in Every Bottle!’ ”

      • Dave in CT

        Fannie Mae was classic public/private. You guys are masochists.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Yes, it was.  And it was also an example of continued meddling back and forth that wrecked the cooperation.

          • Dave in CT

            Yes. Thats what “classic public/private” means.  Thanks for disagreeing by saying the same thing though!

          • Dave in CT

            Have you read Reckless Endangerment yet?

      • Cory

        Damned dirty socialist!

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Who me?  I’m for what works.

    • Cory

      Like I said before, less taxation and regulation MUST be the answer!  I’m sure this makes sense to everyone.  Get government out of the way and unleash the power of the free market.  Encourage entrepeneurs and various job creators to do what they do best.  Their motivation and creativity will trickle wealth down to the rest of us.  Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats!

      • Anonymous

        Why stop there?  Don’t rely on the government and corporations to supply your drugs?  Stop being lazy and make them yourself!

        • Dave in CT

          I know you guys aren’t that moronic.

          Why not make your own computer you lazy slouch!

          Why not make your own beer?

          What are you talking about?  Now you just hate companies and the concept of business, pure and simple?


          • nj

            I also plan to build my own roads, build my own sewer system, and print some money. Who needs government?

          • Modavations

            My pals in Antwerp say they same thing.They’ve been without a govt,.for 18 months and they love it.

          • Anonymous

            Don’t get the “print some money” crowd started . . .

          • Dave in CT

            Build a Financial Sector while you’re at it genius.

      • ca_brit

        Yeah that ideology worked out well for us when we relaxed the financial regulations in the late 90′s. Cory’s solution to the current mess is double down on this ideology. I really have to question whether some people can learn from history.

        • Margbi

          No, but I’ll bet they’ll find something else to blame when they have to repeat it.

        • Dave in CT

          He’s being sarcastic.

          Even though well-meaning, easily-manipulated Democrats like him in Congress during the Clinton administration delivered us the Fannie Mae monster and the seeds of our destruction.

          • Cory

            It’s kind of weird how silly it sounds when I say it!  I don’t think I mis-stated the traditional arguments, have I?

  • Bill

    There should be legislation passed to start government production of drugs in chronic shortage – and a fast track to generic for any non-generic drugs that have chronic shortages.

  • Anonymous

    It’s the same with everything in our world at this point.
    It’s all about corporate greed and money. It’s time for this to change for this to be refashioned for human needs, not corporate aims. 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Regulated capitalism does work in most industries.  This area looks to be one that doesn’t work so well.

      • Anonymous

        So the question is why? Because of lobbying and money being paid to elect the right politicians. It seems pretty simple to me that the our market based health care system is at the root of this.

        • Dave in CT

          jeffe, what are you saying?

          Is it that market based system doesn’t work, or is it because of lobbying and money being paid to elect the right politicians?

          I vote B. And once that is fixed, we can see how A. is working.

          Have you understood what happened with Fannie Mae in the 90′s under Clinton, and the role Frank and congress played in making them riskier and bigger, moving the whole mortgage market into crazy land, under the guise of affordable housing, and righting “racism” in lending, which was later shown not to actually exist?

          Have you read Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson the NY Times writer.   NY TIMES guys! Its “safe” for you to read!

          • Modavations

            Believe me Jeffe,you don’t want to read about the utter malfeasance of Fannie and Freddie and their hack masters.I’m shocked the author was from the NYTimes.No more cocktail party invites, for her!!!!Of course the girls at the NYTimes, have more “cojones’then the guys.

          • Anonymous

            This show is not about Fannie Mae. While I know of the history of how Fannie Mae was ruined and set up for failure I’m not about to go on about it in context to Big Pharma. Quite frankly the banks and Wall Street have done more damage to our nation than Fannie and Freddie.

        • Modavations

          I guess you missed tyhe part about Bush’s putting on “price controls”.So obvious

    • AimIsTrue

      But corporations are human, or isn’t that sort of what the supreme court said concerning campaign contributions.  There’s your ‘rule of law’ Dave in CT – right in the back pocket of the swindlers.

      • Dave in CT

        You don”t even know what Rule of Law means.

        • AimIsTrue

          I know what ‘rule of law’ means.  I was being sarcastic. 

          there are very few laws that really apply to us all – they are the
          ones mainly concerned with protecting our basic rights. The rule
          of law is then evident where very few such laws are upheld, where
          government is, therefore, limited to upholding them. That is what
          connects the rule of law so closely with the free society.”

          You often bring up ‘libertarianism’ and austrian style, ‘free trade capitalism’ like it’s the answer for everything, where I think they are just more utopian ideals which don’t exist and can probably never exist in reality because of the N-factor: human (N)ature: which encompasses all of our baser intincts like power, jeolousy, greed and man’s inhumanity to man.

          The ‘rule of law’ doesn’t account for our corrupted and evil (N)ature. 

          • Dave in CT

            What are you saying?

            “But there are very few laws that really apply to us all – they are the 
            ones mainly concerned with protecting our basic rights. The rule of law is then evident where very few such laws are upheld, where government is, therefore, limited to upholding them. That is what connects the rule of law so closely with the free society.”
            The whole point is that that Rule of Law is there to protect our basic rights against corruption and evil nature of those who would harm our “liberty”.

            You’ve made the argument yourself, but don’t want to accept it.

            The point is the government simply upholds those laws against such harm, and is NOT there to give special favors to individuals or companies, to pick winning and losing industries, or to centrally manage the market for us, instead of letting free-acting individuals make their economic decisions and drive the economy from the bottom up.

            Do you understand what happened with Fannie Mae and Congress? With Frank and Dodd in the 90′s and how Insurance Companies and Investment bankers got the same backstop as Regular Banks, setting up the Too Big to Fail concept?

            You can punish collusion and corruption, without centrally managing our economy and culture.

          • AimIsTrue

            I understand what happened in the 90′s, the 80′s, the 70′s… 

            Who has been punished for the last devastating bubble debacle, or any boom-bust cycle in the last couple of decades, except ordinary citizens?

            Yes, you can punish collusion and corruption, but who is going to do it? The minions usually get rewarded. In fact, this ‘great contraction’ is working in the elite’s favor by consolidating their power and resources.

            What risk was there for the banksters when they knew they would be bailed out since they control the international monetary policy, corporations, courts, governments and legislative bodies?   

            They have been centrally managing our economy through central banking practices and our culture through media enterprises for quite some time now.

            The ideals you profess might work if the system was scraped and rebuilt from the ground up, but I still don’t think it would take into account man’s vile nature. 

            Living in a jungle might be saner.

          • Dave in CT

            Everything you say is true. So what is your solution? Socialism? China model?

            The only political movement that I see addressing those concerns, from a mechanistic way, addressing bankers and government, is the Ron Paul style, liberty movement, that distrusts the bankers control, as well as the capacity of well-meaning politicians to plan our way to fairness or prosperity.

            Its time for solutions and change and concrete actions toward a different way, and the China model of benevolent dictators running a State Capitalism model is not the direction I want to see.


          • AimIsTrue

            I am afraid, for our elite, China is the model.

            Socialism and Communism are just slightly different totalitarian templates sponsored by the same elite structure.

            The Ron Paul choice is valid except he does not want to abolish the Federal Reserve System only audit it.   

            However, the powers-that-be would never allow him to be elected.

            I think that’s why the GOP master-minds are floating the Christie blimp because Paul’s numbers are making them worry a bit.

            Even if Paul did somehow win the popular election, by overcoming all of the vote rigging, the electoral college would side with the lame incumbent and status quo.


            Vote incumbents out until we have a tamper-proof voting system.
            Vote incumbents out until they start representing their constituents.

            Vote incumbents out until they campaign finance reform is enforced.

            Vote incumbents out until corporations are held as responsible as individual citizens are.
            Vote incumbents out until motives of profit and influence for legislators are removed and transparency is paramount.
            Vote incumbents out until congress repeals the Federal Reserve System and starts printing money again.
            Vote incumbents out until they are held accountable.

            That’s a start.



          • Dave in CT

            Keep trading R’s for D’s and D’s for R’s?

            If you can’t support Paul now, because he’s not willing to end the Fed fast enough for you now, who the heck are you supporting?

            I’d take Ron Paul and like minded in the bully pulpit for 4 years over a revolving door of D’s and R’s even they were voted out every 2 weeks.

            Have to start somewhere.  Ron Paul is here.

            What are you arguing with me for?  If we can’t find common ground, nobody can. If winning petty arguments and responding to tone or degree is more important than tangible progress, we are screwed.

            We are screwed.

          • Dave in CT

            We can’t govern with a feeling.  We have to govern with a mechanism.

            To me, the liberty-style approach to markets and banks, and not centrally-managing our economy or personal lives, is the best mechanism out there.  Rule of Law, not Men really seems the best we can do.

            People may want perfection, but they are killing us with their misguided attempts to get there, instead of accepting what was a pretty damn good system/idea, before it was thoroughly infested by cronies under the noses of R’s and D’s who have no respect for liberty, preferring the power afforded by buying off constituencies with debt-based money.

          • AimIsTrue

            We are on the same ground.  Who will join us?

            I think, If we keep voting incumbents out, the two party system will break down eventually.  Other parties would grow up through the cracks. 

            Then, when government leaders have no method of profiting or being influenced because of better legislation, everyone will benefit.

            But we have to be careful, they have multiple party systems in Europe, but they have been co-opted and are just diversions and fronts for the dominant two-party system.

            I’m sorry to say: If Paul got in… he’d probably be executed quicker than JFK.  I think he knows it, too.

            He’s brave, but sometimes I wonder is he’s allowed to be ‘in it’ just to have us think we are being offered ‘a choice’.

            Our system breeds doubt.

          • Dave in CT

            Agreed on the too-many-party skepticism.

            What I wish is that we (most Americans) had a shared, clear vision of the value of a liberty system, and that say 3 parties, were always vying to prove they were the best to defend it.

            Right now the parties are just arbitrary promise machines offering entrenched groups what they want to hear.

            I fear that consumerism and materialism and sense of entitlement have far surpassed an appreciation of the fruits of liberty, and now people clamor to support whoever offers the next quick “fix” of something for nothing.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

    Are there shortages in other OECD nations where per capital healthcare spending is about 1/2 that of the U.S. 

  • Anthony (Seattle)
    • Voila

      You mean intended consequences from profit decisions:

      Market competition drives down the price of generic drugs, and the MMA
      legislation has accelerated the rate and pace of these price declines,
      creating de facto price controls. “However, once product margins drop
      too far, drug manufacturing companies exit or choose to focus
      additional capacity on more profitable products. The remaining companies cannot increase prices more than 6% per year
      due to ASP constraints, and they have little incentive to increase
      manufacturing capacity for low margin products, and voilà, we have drug
      shortages,” said Mr. Kalmans.

      So if you can’t raise your prices more than 6%…

  • Bill

    Our healthcare system is driven by profit – since cheap, cost-effective healthcare solutions are not profit-effective healthcare solutions they are not important and actually a hindrance to big pharma, which would like to see all generics disappear.

    • Dave in CT

      Only Washington could deliver a system that outlawed generics as you fear, to benefit a drug oligopoly. In a free market, the generics will be made if someone can make a living at it.

  • Name Withheld

    I was crying yesterday listening to the story on Morning Edition about the teenage boy who could not get certain nutrients in his IV. My son has Crohn’s and we have finally found a medicine that is working. He gets an infusion every two months–if he would not be able to get it the consequences are pain, inability to do go to school and greater risk for cancer and surgery in the future. I heard your guest mention crystals in a medicine. A batch of the last med my son was on, which he injected himself weekly was recalled because of “flakes of glass.” It was nearly impossible to get a straight answer from the drug company. The woman in the phone just read to me the statement from the website. I wanted to know how it happened and how I could be assured that it would not happen again. I got no response. I feel we are at the mercy of drug and insurance companies in this country.
    Name Withheld 

  • Tina

    I’m on one of the chemotherapy drugs that is involved right now, as are a large percentage of the people who share the cancer treatment center rooms with me.  So far, I haven’t been told I cannot come in for that expected treatment, but will that day come?

    THANK YOU so much for this show; you KNOW how much I LOVE your show!

  • joseph makela

    Rick- as a Canadian (Montreal), YES.
    Thank dog for socialized medicine.
    for profit = death
    Hegellian dialectic people

    • ProperThinking

      Illness is rewarded in America by profiting corporations.  It’s not about capitalism… it’s about making people sick, keeping people sick and evil agendas. 

    • Modavations

      Why did the Premier of NewFoundland(?) have to fly to Miami ,to get his heart operation?

      • Anonymous

        So he could recuperate in Florida in February instead of Newfoundland.  Happens all the time with people from cold climes, according to my cousin the thoracic surgeon in Florida.  Got nothing to do with the procedure itself.

        • Modavations

          I trust you jest.He went because they put him on a  frigging waiting list

      • StupidQuestions

        Because he can afford to and wants to convalesce in the sun?

        Why do Americans go to South America for stem cell treatments and cosmetic surgery?

  • Anonymous

    There was a time when things such as seeds for crops and the research that went into them was in the public domain. Not anymore, this is the same kind of example of how unbridled corporate influence and money has been able to control the outcome for there benefit above what is good for the society as a whole. For those of you who can’t see this a a common good issue and think I’m talking about Socialism I urge you to look that up. Because there is a difference between the two.

    You can just replace seed, food production, to pharmaceuticals.
    It’s that simple, it’s about corporate greed, period. 

    • TFRX

      I know about Monsanto suing those farmers when the former’s patented grain blew onto the latters’ fields and it grew. But is there a typo here?

      “You can just replace seed, food production, to pharmaceuticals.”

      • Dave in CT

        I wonder if government had any role in allowing the kind of ridiculous patent law that lets Monsanto do that.  

        No……government is the savior!Monsanto operated under the laws we create. When we let business get cozy with government, under some inane notion that the government is going to make wise discretionary decisions to benefit the economy and the people, instead of holding all participants to an EQUAL, TRANSPARENT, DEFENDABLE Rule of Law, we get what we deserve.I know I’m saying this to TFRX, so not expecting any thoughtful or reasoned reply.

        • TFRX

          How’s that “Be a better Tea Party” message flying with all those xenophobic racist bigots and their crony capitalist co-opters?

  • David_shepp-from charleston

    Capitialism is a system based on doing what is best for the company and the shareholders.  It has no place in medicine because it violates the basic premise of doing what is best for the patient. 

    • OppositeObjective

      As does the insurance company that directly influences the pricing of service. 

    • Dave in CT

      Capitalism is the idea of letting supply and demand by free consumers and producers set prices that reflect that.

      Companies are the vehicles that produce things and allow people to make a living doing it.

      What planet do you people live on?

      If a colluding industry can fix prices, and their CEOs can make outrageous salaries, because competition is not healthy enough to make them put some of that salary back into the company, then something needs to be done to enhance the competition.

      We don’t throw out the whole concept of markets and competition and expect the drug fairy to send us what we need, free, from Mars.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        I live on a planet inhabited by human beings.  Supply and demand is fine for the fashion industry, but when it’s a matter of life or death, the current system is more akin to your money or your life.

        • Dave in CT

          Are you all listening to Fresh Air, where Michael Lewis is talking about we have a problem in this country where we seem to want everything but we don’t want to pay for it?

          I guess we just have to wait until the “liberal” outlets start saying the same thing fiscally responsible, limited government people are saying now, so all the sheep can come along.

        • Cory

          You are a mad, complicated devil!

      • Cory

        Dave in CT,

        Do you believe that free market capitalism married with democracy is the ultimate height in human organization?  Is it the end point of political and economic evolution?  Is it possible that a better idea might exist or evolve or be discovered?

        • Dave in CT

          Describe your vision, and get people on board, hold a Constitutional convention and make it so.  

          Until then, yes, markets and democracy and individual liberty within our republic are probably the best we can do, and should be protected.  

  • Dave in CT

    Why aren’t new producers coming into the market to make these drugs if prices are high?

    Economics 101

    What are the barriers to entry?

    • GretchenMo

      About 3 years to get FDA approval of a manufacturing facility.

      • Anonymous

        I see you are advocating for a drug company to just be able to build a manufacturing facility whenever they feel like it without any way of knowing if it is safe. Is this your point?

        • GretchenMo

          No, I’m perfectly fine with reasonable manufacturing facility reviews as a protection for all.  But if a manufacturer has a problem producing sufficient quantity, it’s not like you can just flip a switch and get the product from somewhere else.  That’s the system we live with.

    • Roger from Mass

      Because the profits aren’t high enough. Yet! Good reason maybe to have the government do it. It would be a good way to spend taxpayer money. In the long run, it costs consumers a lot more to fix these problems, mostly created by industry.

      • Dave in CT

        ?  Because government workers don’t want a salary and benefits?
        The profits aren’t high enough for private entrepreneurs to get over the barriers to entry maybe, but there is no way a bunch of  chemists would not want to have a chance to make a decent living, just like a government worker, doing some simple chemistry. And that others wouldn’t like to compete for that.

        The only reason it isn’t happening is that Big Pharma has unfair advantages, likely enforced by Government in a case of Fannie Mae-like cronyism, that maintain the barriers to entry that prevent small operations from starting.

  • becklectic

    Are you going to interview drug manufacturers on your show?

    • TFRX

      Anything they want to say will be in the “sponsor credits” before long, methinks.

    • GretchenMo

      No, it’s better to get the opinion of people who don’t know too much and aren’t involved.

    • Roger

      Because you can’t trust their point of view, their spin. It is incredibly skewed towards the so-called “free market” angle. Their point of view would take away precious time from an honest discussion of this topic.

      • GretchenMo

        Please it’s easier to demonize them when they’re not around!

      • Modavations

        Read the editorial page of the Wall St. Journal,then the editorial page of the NYTimes and decide.Why are leftists so afraid of the other side

  • Nutricj

    Tom, this is exactly what many of us in the human health and environmental health fields have been warning (if not screaming) about for decades: we must take control of our own health (healthy eating, exercise, etc.). Healthcare as the crutch to society is unsustainable. Period. Each of us must take responsibility for own health, rather than ‘hoping’ the market, the doctors, or the drugs will take care of us. We want to be lazy and frivolous over our lives and then blame the collapsing healthcare system for our woes. Wake up and smell the vegetables and treadmills!!

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Uh, there are plenty of diseases that aren’t the result of bad diet and can’t be cured by eating yoghurt.  What about people with those?

      • Nutricj

        Agreed, but there would be far less pressure on both manufacturing, and all of healthcare in general if the majority of us took some responsibility for ourselves. We know that diabesity, as just one example, significantly increases the rates of cancers. The vast majority of diabetes is Type II = preventable. The drug makers could keep up if there were less pressure by the population.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Well, I have Type I, so let’s be careful about blanket statements.

          • Nutricj

            Understood Greg and I wish you wellness and health, and sincerely wish that were not the case for you. But, no, when upwards of 95% are Type II- this strain on the system is like a tidal wave onto a beach full of sponges as the attempted clean up. The vast majority of us would be disease free if we only tried. If we continue as a society to expect to damage ourselves over our lives, as we see in so many ways (government, manufacturing, insurance, health, to infinitum…), the system cannot support it- money runs out, drugs run out. In supply/demand modality, supply is not endless. Blankets aren’t big enough for the statement that need be made.

        • Michiganjf

          That’s an absurd assertion on it’s face!!!!

          Industry can make 100 hamburgers per person every year in this country, 81.6 liters of beer per person, 740 televisions per 1000 persons, etc., etc….


          • Nutricj

            depends on the drug, many biologics for example can take years to develop and others, the ingredients are so costly and in short supply, no supply is not endless. it is just not as simple as widgets.

          • Michiganjf

            Yeah, twenty year old scotch takes a while to develop as well, but I’ve never heard that the industry falls short of demand!!!!

            Planning for demand is part and parcel of a business model, and BIG Pharma has studied EVERY ASPECT of its business model inside and out!

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Hm. . . Lagavulin isn’t as peaty as it used to be and is much more expensive.  Other single-malt distilleries have gone silent.

          • Dave in CT

            When will you ask yourself what puts the BIG in BIG Pharma?  Who writes the legislation that protects their cartel behavior and prevents others from meeting demand.

            Making generic drugs is simple chemistry, and their are plenty of underemployed chemists out there who could make them.  What is preventing it?

          • Nutricj

            i wish my cancer patients had had twenty years to wait. i wish my diabetics had ten. and ps. the industry is falling short on demand RIGHT NOW. that is why this program was aired, TODAY.

          • Dave in CT

            Why are health care costs rising under Obama?

    • Cory

      You are right.  It is always better to blame the sick people for the problem.

  • Michiganjf

    Another example of the Republican philosophy at work:

    Companies will respond to the needs of the public JUST FINE without government intervention.

    This is why Health Care should not be a private enterprise folks!!!!

    Need more convincing?

    Look at the stories last week bout how much health is still skyrocketing!!!

    President Obama’s Health Care Act hasn’t even begun to kick in yet, and WE NEED IT DESPERATELY!!!!

    • Dave in CT

      Last I checked, central mismangement of markets for the benefit of crony politicians was the Democratic Schtick (Barney Frank Fannie Mae)

      And I already disdain the GOP cronies…

      Why on earth do you not think is not valid in this statement:

      “Companies will respond to the needs of the public JUST FINE without government intervention.”

      If there is money to be made, a living to be made making something that someone wants/needs, somebody will do it.

      That’s Econ 101

      The only thing that can screw that up is collusion in the market or mismanagement of the industry by the government.

      How is that even arguable?

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Why is that statement not valid?  I give you Walmart.  It has driven out small businesses and now offers a whole lot of schlock.  That’s ECON 101–monopolies.

        • Dave in CT

          Since when do libertarians defend monopolies?  So why lay that at my doorstep?  

          Walmart is not a monopoly.  It uses the phony-free trade model we have discussed before, that is before them.

          Don’t blame people who work within the system to make money. Blame the people who write the rules, and examine what those rules encourage and whether it really serves our liberty and free/fair market, or some else’s corrupt pocket.

          • Anonymous

            What is a patent if not a monopoly?  Then once it’s expired and the drug is a generic and able to be produced by anyone who wants to “compete”, the profit margin drops precipitously.  But voila!, the patients’ needs are now addressed by a “new” drug that does the same thing, protected by a new patent that provides monopoly protection, then aggressively marketed to doctors by a sales staff with huge amounts of cash for entertaining and rewarding prospective prescribers as well as print and video media advertising to the consumer/patient who is told to go to their doc and specifically ask for the “new” drug.

            How do those undeniable facts fit into your totally theoretical model of capitalism?

          • Dave in CT

            What is your point?

            Patents give idea/product developers a chance to get a profit out of their investment.  Letting them expire challenges the market to keep innovating.

            If Doctors prescribe people useless new/expensive medicines because they are to dumb to stand up to salesmen, then they need to go back to school, and people need to find a better doctor. 

            If people are too dumb to listen to their doctor, and instead self-prescribe based on TV commercials, well….

            I know, lets have some dumb politicians come up with a master plan to save us from all our dumb decisions.

            That is after all the biggest argument against freedom: We are too dumb to handle it!

          • Anonymous

            We are too dumb to handle some of the complexities of modern life.  I’m not a medical doctor, am not a pharmicist, and am not a stock trader.  I’d like the government to provide health care and retirement.

          • Anonymous

            We are too dumb to handle some of the complexities of modern life.  I’m not a medical doctor, am not a pharmicist, and am not a stock trader.  I’d like the government to provide health care and retirement.

          • Anonymous

            Without government regulations, monopolies will arise. 

          • Dave in CT

            The Myth of Natural Monopoly

            Worth consideration if you are interested in exploring the issue.

          • William

            But government runs monopolies and they are doing very poorly.

          • Anonymous

            Without government regulations, monopolies will arise. 

      • Michiganjf

        Hey out there in La La Land….

        You are aware that the topic of this program is that DRUG COMPANIES AREN’T FULFILLING MARKET DEMAND????!!!!!!!

        Good grief, how self-deluded can ideologies make some people???

        • Dave in CT

          WHY aren’t they fulfilling demand!?

          How the F is the basic notion that people make things if other people want to buy them, an ideology?

          The ideology is what protects the corrupt dealings between government and industry that prevent what would otherwise naturally occur.

          You guys really don’t believe in the plain old concept of a business?


          How is that an ideological question?

          Only an anti-market ideologue could turn this ideological. 

          Do you disagree that trading, barter, exchange of goods and services is a fairly natural human endeavor?

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Of course it is.  But if I have something that you have to have to live, I get to name my price, and you don’t have a lot of choice.

          • Dave in CT

            or wait for someone willing to make an honest living to compete with your price gauging.  In the meantime, while I wait, what makes me entitled to what you have created just because I wish I could have it or “need” it?

    • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

      “This is why Health Care should not be a private enterprise folks!!!!”

      “President Obama’s Health Care Act hasn’t even begun to kick in yet, and WE NEED IT DESPERATELY!!!!”
      You sound rather uninformed. 

      Healthcare was a mostly private enterprise before RomneyCare, the blueprint for ObamaCare and will be private enterprise under ObamaCare.  

      The blueprint for RomneyCare was drafted by Massachusetts healthcare enterprises. Massachusetts health insurance premiums soared before RomneyCare  and continue to soar five years after RomneyCare was passed in 2006. 

      ObamaCare was drafted by a hoard of health care money trough feeders including ones from Massachusetts who drafted RomneyCare. So, how will ObamaCare fix what its blueprint RomneyCare has not?

      • Michiganjf

        Sorry, no misinformation there, just poorly worded:

        “This is why Health Care should not be a private enterprise folks!!!!”:
        -A government mandated public solution is the ONLY sane option.

        “President Obama’s Health Care Act hasn’t even begun to kick in yet, and WE NEED IT DESPERATELY!!!!”:
        -Since this was the best that could be done with Repugnican obstructionism, Obamacare is what we’re stuck with… but at least it will ultimately provide a much needed check on rising healthcare costs!!!!

        Next time I’ll try to take more time in my comments to avoid confusion… of course, it’s hard to do when web-snacking at work, but I happen to have a job which generally gives me that time.

        • Michiganjf

          Still not clear enough…

          “This is why Health Care should not be a private enterprise folks!!!!”:-A government mandated public single payer system is the ONLY sane option.

  • Lobbygow

    There is no MARKET for lifesaving drugs! People don’t want to have to use them. The laws of consumer supply and demand don’t apply as they do with other products. No one wants to have to use cancer drugs. On the other hand, there is a market for erectile dysfunction drugs and allergy pills. People consume these products just as they would any other normal product. 

  • Anonymous

    This morning’s Morning Edition included an interview about corporate responsibility that offers a clue as to how businesses — pharmaceutical or any other — may feel about their responsibility to consumers, employees, and country.


    • Tina

      THANKS for the link — I’ll check it out after this show ends.  For now, I’ll say that I heard a report once that said that the US Supreme Court once ruled that US corporations only owe responsibility to their dividend holders — I HOPE this link will suggest wider responsibilities ARE due!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Why isn’t it happening in Canada and other countries?  Hm… could they have a different healthcare system?

    • Anonymous

      They hate the freedom to have a drug shortage.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        You’re either for us, or you’re, cough, cough, against us.

    • Cory

      Greg, you gotta stop.  I never have been able to hit the curveball!

  • gailrmann

    Are the pharma
    companies holding back on critical drugs to pursue their demands for cutting
    back on FDA regulation? With the amount we already spend on prescription drugs,
    it’s seems suspect that this is happening.

    Our expenditures are extremely
    out of sync with what other OECD countries spend. Here’s an excerpt from The
    Commonwealth Fund 2010 International Health Policy Survey.

    “According to The
    Commonwealth Fund 2010 International Health Policy Survey in 11 Countries,
    adults in the U.S. were the most likely to take at least one prescription drug
    regularly (61%) and to take at least four prescription drugs regularly (25%).4 Switzerland
    had the lowest drug utilization. Compared with the U.S., only two-thirds as
    many Swiss adults were taking a regular prescription (40%) and only two-fifths
    were taking at least four prescrip­tions (10%).

    Not surprising, given the
    higher rates of utilization and higher prices, spending in 2008 on pharmaceu­ticals
    was highest in the U.S. among the 12 coun­tries, at $897 per capita (data not
    shown). A 2008 analysis of OECD data conducted by consulting firm McKinsey
    found that the U.S. annually spends $98 billion more on pharmaceuticals than
    would be expected based on per-capita income relative to other wealthy
    countries, and that this higher spending is due both to higher prices and a
    more expensive drug mix.”

    I highly recommend reading
    the Commonwealth Fund report to provide a deeper understanding of how
    unbalanced our health care is compared with other countries. Pharma is making a
    huge profit off the U.S. population so, again, why is this shortage happening?

  • Richard

    Does this drug shortage exist in countries that use a socialized health care system, like northern Europe ?   If it does exist is such places, is it as profound as it is here in the United States ? 

  • Kalai

    The four basic concepts of capitalism (supply, demand, ownership, competition); pharmaceuticals along with healthcare, as a commodity fails miserably.  Supply and demand is not facilitated by competition.  Supply and demand is created by the supplier herself.  Every other nation in the world instinctively knows, the formula does not work on several systems (i.e. education, transportation, water…etc.), along with healthcare.  We skipped healthcare.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      And we’ve skipped or ignored the others, as well.

    • Dave in CT

      “Every other nation” You mean the ones going broke playing debt-based, centrally-managed utopia?  Our debt funded state-capitalism, corporate welfare/racket protection is not far behind.

  • Zachary Corrigan

    I oversee emergency preparedness for the 20 hospitals in Northern Virginia and there is a very real disaster preparedness component to this issue that I deal with on a daily basis.  We maintain an emergency stockpile of drugs at our hospitals for use in disasters.  There have been times where my hospitals have to tap into this disaster stockpile just to keep daily operations going.  And then the restock time to replenish the disaster inventory is delayed because of back-orders.  Its a mess and it needs to be fixed.  The stakes are just to high not to. 

    Zachary Corrigan
    Executive Director
    Northern Virginia Hospital Alliance 

  • Tina

    Plus … more and more drug manufacturers are adding INACTIVE INGREDIENTS that many, many people are allergic to!  

  • Terri

    Four years ago my son (who was a freshman in college at the time) was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. One of the drugs that recently has been in shortage saved his life. I cannot imagine what I would have done if there was a drug to treat him but was “temporarily” unavailable for the reasons that have been discussed…In a situation that was already terrible, it would have been tragic. And this in the United States of America?

  • Serge

    Ask the real question: are drug distributers killing patients?
    You can guess my answer. Private enterprise is not good for patients.

    Serge Cantin, Montreal

  • Anonymous

    Patents should be use it or lose it.  There is no social utitity in hoarding knowledge and not producing.

  • Justin

    Drug prices should be set by a public-private entity (something like the Federal Reserve), based on clinical effectiveness relative to existing available therapies for a given set of conditions. 

    Companies that develop effective drugs would then be allowed to profit from that effectiveness for an extended period of time (i.e., even “off-patent” drugs would be assigned a favorable price to continue development).  Reasonable extensions to pharmaceutical patents would further incentivize this strategy for drug manufacturers.  Critically, this would also incentivize drug companies making drugs that work – better than what’s out there, either in terms of the clinical or the monetary sense.

    This strategy might only succeed if physicians were also required to
    use drugs that meet both clinical and cost effectiveness criteria.  But this just seems like good medicine.

    I am a physician and a psychiatrist, and these issues are particularly acute in the field of mental health.

    Cambridge MA

    • Dave in CT

      “Drug prices should be set by a public-private entity (something like the Federal Reserve), based on clinical effectiveness relative to existing available therapies for a given set of conditions.  ”

      Is this a sick joke?

      The Federal Reserve, and Public/Private cozy relationships between politicians and companies, with tailor made legislation (Fannie Mae) has been such a success!

      Why are we so gullible to this idea of well-intentioned central management by a mixture of politicians and unaccountable cabals actually serving our interests!?!

      Can anyone answer that?

      It worked for housing, lets do it for Medicine?

      • Dave in CT

        Life, and certainly science/medicine, is not static enough for centrally managed behemoths legislating their way to meet demand, to keep up.

      • Cory

        Dave is right.  Drugs, and healthcare in general should go to the highest bidder.  No regulation or leveling of availability should be allowed.

        • Dave in CT

          You have serious issues with Ends and Means.

          How do you get from arguing against a new Public/private Federal Drug Reserve to No regulation or leveling of availability?

          Your heartfelt commentary, while easy to sympathize with, doesn’t have much reasoning, and thus pragmatic, sustainable action behind it.

  • Bob

    I have a friend who works in big Pharma.  His company was bought for it’s patents, they have laid off of the scientists who developed the new drug, and now want produce it in China.  He has recounted to me how the management talk by non-scientists management is shockingly about chasing an Apple computer model outsourcing production to slash costs!!

    • Cory

      That’s just good business.  Maximizing profits for shareholders, dontcha know!

  • Margaret in Omaha

    Pharma adds or changes one ingredient in medication and spend $$$ in court to extend patents. The problem is their gain and profit and not health care

  • Billbodge

    This sounds like the Ticket-tron Stub Hub model or drug distribution. Are the drug manufacturers only releasing drugs to distributors that they know will sell the product at an inflated prices.  The regulators should look for kick backs to manufacturers when prices jump a 1000% or more.

  • Mgreendale

    I wish we could have heard from the supply side of this issue – the pharma companies.

  • Modavations

    Remove the “price controls” and the drugs will suddenly appear.The prices will be higher at first,then the competitors will come in,and often times prices will drop.The shortages are happening in Canada and France.These are the only places I know about first hand,but I’m 100% sure, that any markets that are impeeded, are experiencing similar shortages.

  • Modavations

    Just got off the phone with the boys in Antwerp.They say there hasn’t been a govt. for 18months now.No one notices and no one cares.

    • MindlessInteruptUs

      No one gives an ‘antwerp’ to your tangential comments

      • Modavations

        Obama has now given permission for” bill collectors” to call you on your cell phone,for delinquent student loans.Is that one better???

        • MindlessInteruptUs

          He also gave the NSA permission to keep listening to our telecommunication conversations too. Next…

          • Modavations

            The att. general knew about the gun running and Issa says he’s purgered himself.Nancy Pelosi’s brother in law is involved in another 850Bill.ish Solyendra deal and there are others.Next week the unions start busing the Brown Shirts to Wall St..All over Europe you can drink beer in the street and smoke cigs.The hotel rooms have that quaint artifact,we call the ashtray.Remember,America before the “handwringers”,when we could still have fun

          • MindlessInteruptUs

            Still moaning about scoundrels and ashtrays, did you have your afternoon feeding or bottle, yet?

          • Modavations

            Eugene Robinson wrote that Christie was too fat to run.Please take a gander at the Surgeon General.

          • Largesseness

            Perfect example of two ‘fat cats’ living off the governments largesse.

          • Modavations

            Make it three,including Eugene

          • Modavations

            My comment with ashtrays and drinking beer in the street,is that we’re becoming a frigging Police State.I’m afraid to drink 2 beers and drive.Remember ,in Fall, when you could burn frigging leaves.

  • Modavations

    Why are ins.policies so expensive in Mass.,you ask?Elementary,there are only 4 competitors(who collude),instead of 400.

    • InYourMitt

      Thank Romney.

  • Dave in CT

    We clearly need a new Fannie Mae for health care.  Because we care.

  • california

    is there something to be learned from orphan drug development to alleviate shortages?

  • Dave in CT

    I came here 2 years ago playing devils advocate for the libertarian/ Ron Paul viewpoint, looking for intelligent people to provide a rational argument about what is wrong with it, and to describe the better model that they support, particularly with regards to what led us to our financial crisis.

    Still waiting.

    My faith in the “left” or Progressives is lower than ever.  And I’ve never had faith in the establishment GOP.

    Criticizing the shortcomings of markets and freedom is easy.

    Coming up with a political/economic mechanistic system that does a better job than liberty and the rule of law, is a lot harder.

    What’s sad is that so many seem ready to throw the American experiment in liberty under the bus, when they have no idea what to replace it with.

    • NotYet

      The right/left dichotomy is an institutionalized myth.

      Your intentions are valid.  Your logical reasoning and critical thinking are generally apt.   

      You, Gregg, Modavations, GretchenMo, jeffe68, nj, Notafeminista, TFRX, and all of the rest of consistent commentators on this site have more in common than you think.

      The differences between the suppossed left or right are really very few.

      We are all unhappy with the status quo and are arguing about what’s wrong. 

      Well, the system is wrong from both sides.

      Here are the common desires I see everyone discussing:

      Accountable minimal government; enforceable liberaterian ‘rule of law’ ideals; ‘free market’ capitalism with just enough regulations to keep the playing field ‘fair and square’; liberty with responsibility; opportunities to accuire personal wealth and property; scientifically based long-term solutions to maintain the health of our economy, ourselves and our environment.

      I don’t think this is sad.  I think it’s a great opportunity.

      The mechanisms might be broken, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed or reinvented.

      We’re not dead yet.

      • Brett

        “Accountable minimal government; enforceable liberaterian ‘rule of law’ ideals; ‘free market’ capitalism with just enough regulations to keep the playing field ‘fair and square’; liberty with responsibility; opportunities to accuire personal wealth and property; scientifically based long-term solutions to maintain the health of our economy, ourselves and our environment.”
        I like this; I’m not seeing anything about societal safety nets, though. You may have it in there presented in a different frame with a different palette, or you may not think these are needed? 

        • NotYet

          In reply to Brett –

          You are correct.  It most definitely should be included.

          Glad you picked up on my omission.  I left it out purposely in order to establish the most common ground on both sides.

          Because when you mention ‘safety net’, some folks get bent out of shape and start screaming “nanny/welfare state”, when in actuality they are technically deemed ‘entitlements’ – which is a societal contract within a civil state.

          Nice catch.   

    • JustSayin

      Actually you came here two years ago as a Tea Party pusher, then a libertarian pusher, and now the “Liberty” and “freedom” pusher.  I give you points for trying, but you took the plane to Guiana and you’re waiting for everyone to drink the cool-aid. 

      You don’t want to discuss the shortcomings of your ideology, you want to push it. Remember a few days ago when I asked how corporations would be motivated to stop polluting if Dr. Paul had his wish to eliminate the EPA. You had no answer…Libertarians never do, because they are so enamored with the ideology, they can’t imagine some parts of it are totally irrational, and are blind to the reality of life and nature.

      Communists were the same way. They believed the revolution was a change in the functioning of each individual across the population, and that people would adopt a change of behavior based on political will and social pressure. It was doomed to fail right from the start, because it made no accounting for human nature.

      If you hadn’t noticed Dr. Paul is an ideologue. He’s not in the lunatic fringe yet, but he can see it from where he’s standing. Some of his ideas are good, and maybe even practical.

      The problem with ideologues is they refuse to alter their ideas to the reality that’s easy to see.  They refuse to acknowledge those realities, or may just say that the reality will change if the ideology has enough force or “Will” to impose it upon the society.  Like trickle down would work if only the force were applied with greater will.

      But they never mention the force that will be required to impose it in their speeches. That’s the part they ALWAYS leave out, the purges, the cultural revolutions, the Gulags, etc.

      Dave you have been surrounded by good ideas and comments. It not that everyone here is stupid or ignorant. Its not that everyone here is wrong….

      • Brett

        Thanks, JustSayin,
        I’ve wanted to say something along those lines to Dave but how without seeming to offend? The man seems so sincere and passionate. Lately, it seems most posts mention something about Paul/Nader as being something akin to saviors should they get elected President (each man has his place to do good for America, sure; Nader as a consumer advocate, Paul in his current position to provide an important different/dissenting voice). Neither man is equipped to be president of the US, though. There’s a management quality of building consensus and getting people to work together that each man sorely lacks; and, as you say, Paul, especially, is an ideologue. I know people who’ve worked for Nader during his consumer advocacy days against the insurance industry, and they say he’s not a pleasant man who inspires people toward loyalty and working tirelessly (and I am being kind). Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on which side of a particular issue one is on, our president has to represent all people.   

        There’s talk in some posts of abolishing the two party system (so tear it all down and start over?) which sounds too much like the circular foolishness of a perfectionist, i.e., everything has to change and all that has been built has to be dismantled before change can happen, and change can’t happen unless everything changes, or something like that. If, in fantasy land, either Paul or Nader ever get elected, they’ll still have to put on their pants one leg at a time just like all the other presidents (Nader probably sleeps in his pants, now that I think about it, it’s more efficient). 

        There’s never been a good working model of Libertarianism presented. 

        I’ll admit, we need a paradigm shift in certain areas, I’ve just never heard a Libertarian present reasonable solutions that don’t involve monumental, revolutionary change at the exclusion of all other world/domestic matters and crises…not very realistic.

        Both parties seem filled with professional politicians who operate at about the same level of clannishness and corruption, on that we can agree; and, in that sense, there isn’t much of a difference in each party. In terms of each party’s platform, there are a lot of differences. In terms of citizens who are party affiliated, there are a lot of differences…oops, I guess I’m starting to respond to NotYet below me here…       

        • Dave in CT

          What do folks disagree with, specifically in these ideas:



          P.S. Hayek supported the notion of a basic safety net.  A huge difference between a safety net and a welfare state.

        • TheLastTwo

          Obama or GW Junior weren’t equipped to be president either.

        • TheLastTwo

          Obama or GW Junior weren’t equipped to be president either.

        • JustSayin

          Well there actually aren’t two parties. They only exist because people become members. They both have been corrupted beyond recognition, and the party members know it. All it takes to not belong is to be independent, and think rationally. Which is why independents are so huge now.

          There is a good working model of a Libertarian state. Somalia: No laws or regulations governing personal freedoms. No government paving those socialist roads, or preventing crime. It just full of rugged individualists with guns.


          • Dave in CT

            Your ignorance and cynical use of false analogies is staggering.

            Love that Somalia Rule of Law.

          • JustSayin

            Just how does a libertarian state enforce rule of law? What entity enforces the laws? Hey this sounds like a question you answered two days ago with “central banking”. 

          • Dave in CT

            Law enforcement.

            We legislate law, and execute it.

            You can read the Constitution.

          • Modavations

            How ’bout Belgium.No govt. for 18 months and the Flemish,at least,love it. 

        • Anonymous

          The thing that gets me about Paul/Nadar thing is how diametrically opposed they are to who government should work. Nadar wants a single payer health care system and Paul wants nothing.
          I would say such a political platform is DOA.

      • Dave in CT

        How you see Libertarians, the enemies of coercion, making a case for imposing something on you is an odd argument.

        Sue polluters. They have no right to degrade your property.


        Think about some of these points…

        I have never argued a liberty, or libertarian position is a magic bullet.

        I have tried to keep all the knee-jerk lefties or righties honest about the fact that their parties have been pretty equally to blame in our biggest problems, because they prefer their concentrated power in Washington, and hiding behind partisan talking points and failed ideologies, to doing the right thing, or letting the people decide.

        Dreams of a benevolent central committee of vast power, are very likely to become nightmares. You disagree?

        All I ask for here is for critics of the points I raise, is to put out your alternative vision of how we prevent something like our financial crisis, which so clearly has its roots in a very elite banking and governing world, who some argue have good intentions, some argue have nefarious intentions, but almost none can argue, had good results for the people.

        Put out your vision of a political/economic system that does not succumb to the follies of centralized planning, cronyism, or a large loss of personal liberty.

        Come on, its easy isn’t it?

        Or has this blog always just been a bitch and moan and protect the party place?

        • JustSayin

          “How you see Libertarians, the enemies of coercion, making a case for imposing something on you is an odd argument.”

          There you go again.. For those who don’t believe in Libertarianism, it IS an imposition.  You are arguing like an Evangelical. To them its “odd” that anyone would reject the blessings of faith and God… But its definitely NOT a form of Liberty.

          Sue polluters. They have no right to degrade your property.”

          “Sue polluters.”  Little ole me against Dow Chemical… That’s why The people of these united states need a government with its necessary agencies to act on their behalf.

          Corporations have corrupted the government. That does not mean we weaken or eliminate the government. The peoples voice is their government, and if it were functioning as a just representative regulatory entity, then most of the failures created by corporate meddling would not have occurred. 

          Its not that the government (the voice of the people) is too strong, its that its too weak where it needs to be strong, and too strong where it needs to be weak.  That’s the result of corruption.

          • Dave in CT

            I’m not telling you to do anything, except make the case for righting the wrongs you see in our system with a clear, fair, mechanism.

            Why is Libertarianism a religion, but Democratism or Republicanism or Obamism is not?  Why are liberty principles the least coercive of the bunch?  Is that actually why it never gets any traction, because its not coercive enough?  Because it takes voluntary participation in good faith by a critical mass, and people are too uninformed, lazy, or cynical to carry out their responsibility for self-governing?

            If you don’t believe in self-governence, just say so.Stating the problem is easy.”Its not that the government (the voice of the people) is too strong, its that its too weak where it needs to be strong, and too strong where it needs to be weak.  That’s the result of corruption.”Now give us the solution.

          • JustSayin

            -It not a Hobson’s Choice between Libertarianism or corruption.

            -For some Libertarianism is a religion. Because many of its followers deny reality in favor of utopian idealism.

            -To impose Libertarianism on the nation would require a huge amount of coercion.

            -What the hell is believing in self governance? Is that like the Holy trinity?

            -Give you the solution! That’s childish word play. If you want an oracle, I guess Dr. Paul will have to do.

          • Dave in CT

            glass houses….

            You accuse of not answering questions, and answer none yourself, but leave yourself king of reason and moderate righteousness.

            I’m an atheist.

          • Dave in CT

            At least with no ideas, you can’t be called and ideologue.

            But, how dare I ask!

          • Justsayin

            Dave, you’re upset and not thinking properly. Lashing out at me does not make my points invalid.

            Do you really expect me to fix the economy here and now in this little blog at your insistence. As I stated you have had two years of good ideas posted here, and I guess you rejected them all. Do you really think I could write anything that would change your would view now, if two years ideas had no effect? 

            You’re correct… I’m am a very rational person and emotions do not color my logic.  I’m not an ideologue.  I don’t believe in beliefs.

          • Dave in CT

            Finally an answer.

            We take the last 2 years of the On Point Blog, hold a Constitutional Convention, and off we go!

          • Anonymous

            Obamism? You are not serious.

          • Dave in CT

            Sorry, just Democratism.

          • Dave in CT

            I’m not telling you to do anything, except make the case for righting the wrongs you see in our system with a clear, fair, mechanism.

            Why is Libertarianism a religion, but Democratism or Republicanism or Obamism is not?  Why are liberty principles the least coercive of the bunch?  Is that actually why it never gets any traction, because its not coercive enough?  Because it takes voluntary participation in good faith by a critical mass, and people are too uninformed, lazy, or cynical to carry out their responsibility for self-governing?

            If you don’t believe in self-governence, just say so.Stating the problem is easy.”Its not that the government (the voice of the people) is too strong, its that its too weak where it needs to be strong, and too strong where it needs to be weak.  That’s the result of corruption.”Now give us the solution.

          • Anonymous

            Again, good points and I agree with the point about government as an advocate of the little guy. We can’t sue Dow chemical.

            Dave I have two words for you. Love canal.

          • Anonymous

            Again, good points and I agree with the point about government as an advocate of the little guy. We can’t sue Dow chemical.

            Dave I have two words for you. Love canal.

          • Modavations

            The people still vote.Are corporations putting guns to your heads.

      • Anonymous

        Well said sir.

        “Facts are stubborn things”
        John Adams

      • Modavations

        Surely you jest.Being green is a marketing tool.

  • Rx19801999

    I am a pharmacist in Ohio.  I think the problem is with the FDA.  They are too busy approving the new “me too ” drugs, drugs that is in the same class as existing drugs, with few modifications, so the new drugs can be sold at inflated prices, because it is “on patent”.  Or drugs with a different formulation, such as extended release, sustained release, with vitamins, with antihistamines, so they can extent the patent of the drug.  New drugs in Europe have to go through “non-inferiority” drug test to be approved, here, in the US, all new drugs have to do is to be statistically significantly superior than placebo.  Thus, the market is glutted with expensive, on patent new drugs.  This practice not only increases the health care cost, but also depletes precious resources allocated for off patent drugs

    • Dave in CT

      How about that. The Government working for the benefit of companies instead of for the market.

    • Modavations

      Incorrect sir.It’s price controls.Get the govt.out of the game and the market will produce the drugs.The “left” expect companies to produce a product and lose money.Even the Russians know better then that.

      • SirCranky

        More tripe from Mr. Innuendo.  I don’t know anyone who expects a company to produce a product and lose money.  Except if they are selling a service to go along with that product and they intend to make a killer profit on the associated service.   

        • Modavations

          Let’s do an experiment.Remove the Bush price controls and we’ll see.

          • BlameTheParty

            Bush price controls?  More likely GOP strongmen Hastert and DeLay pushed this through.  With Graham, Lott, and Wyden voting “in quick succession” to put it over the top.  I wonder why?  Could it have been Big Pharma lobbying in collusion, perhaps?

          • Anonymous

            Search “Billy Tauzin” who, as a congress member, shepherded the Medicare drug bill through Congress, then immediately resigned to take a job for PHARMA paying him million.  A clearer prima facie case of government corruption would be hard to find. 

          • BlameTheParty

            Naturally, both parties are to blame for being in bed with Big Pharma.  Modavations was blaming one man’s signature.

          • BlameTheParty

            Naturally, both parties are to blame for being in bed with Big Pharma.  Modavations was blaming one man’s signature.

          • BlameTheParty

            Naturally, both parties are to blame for being in bed with Big Pharma.  Modavations was blaming one man’s signature.

  • NotYet

    The right/left dichotomy is an institutionalized myth.

    Your intentions are valid.  Your logical reasoning and critical thinking are generally apt.   

    You, Gregg, Modavations, GretchenMo, jeffe68, nj, Notafeminista, TFRX,
    and all of the rest of consistent commentators on this site have more
    in common than you think.

    The differences between the suppossed left or right are really very few.

    We are all unhappy with the status quo and are arguing about what’s wrong. 

    Well, the system is wrong from both sides.

    Here are the common desires I see everyone discussing:

    Accountable minimal government; enforceable liberaterian ‘rule of law’
    ideals; ‘free market’ capitalism with just enough regulations to keep
    the playing field ‘fair and square’; liberty with responsibility;
    opportunities to accuire personal wealth and property; scientifically
    based long-term solutions to maintain the health of our economy,
    ourselves and our environment.

    I don’t think this is sad.  I think it’s a great opportunity.

    The mechanisms might be broken, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed or reinvented.

    We’re not dead yet.

    • Anonymous

      I find the very idea of libertarian ideals to be abhorrent to me.
      I don’t want to go back to the 18th or 19th centuries thank you very much. The Koch brothers are Libertarians and I find their view points to be the antithesis of what a democracy is.

      I want government to work and it should also be able to regulate the market place without being lobbied by the very industries it is trying to regulate. Banking and pharma are tow examples.

      • Dave in CT

        “I want government to work and it should also be able to regulate the market place without being lobbied by the very industries it is trying to regulate. Banking and pharma are two examples.”

        Funny how people criticize and defend the status quo in the same thought.

        Shows perhaps how we got where we are.

        All you guys with no answers to how to get out of the status quo, but afraid to try anything new, with a rational basis.

      • WhatsInAName

        jeffe68 –

        Don’t get hung up on labels too much.  Terms are co-opted, turned inside-out, then reused for ulterior motives in order to fool you. 

        The Koch brothers are a great example.  They say they are life-long libertarians but there actions speak otherwise.

        Like the previous administration said they were for small government and blew it up real big.  Like the previous president claimed he was ‘born again’ to court the “religious right” vote.

        The ‘Tea Party’ started out as a group of disaffected, independent voters tired of the same ol’ song-n-dance system. Then the concept was hijacked by the GOP master-minds and finance by the Koch brothers and turned it into a more right-wing extreme thing to court the disenfranchised southern and middle American vote.

        Pretty slick, eh?

        Here’s a couple of interesting articles that shows how the Koch family only cares about creating and maintaining control over their power and wealth.

        This is from 10/4/11:

        The leading financiers of the Tea Party movement were last night
        attempting to rebut claims that a portion of their wealth comes from
        secretly doing business with the most un-American trading partner
        imaginable: the hard-line government of Iran.


        This is from 8/30/10:

        Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its
        fortune to Joseph Stalin. Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who
        settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T.,
        where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented
        a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but,
        according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as
        a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home,
        Koch found work in the Soviet Union. In the nineteen-thirties, his
        company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin’s regime set up
        fifteen modern oil refineries.


  • Cclark

    Klonopin is the only drug [its generics don't work for me] that controls my medical condition and began disappearing a year ago and is now gone from the market.  No one from Roche to my doctor or pharmacists can explain why.  I have wiped out CVS in two states and am desperate.

  • Cclark

    Klonopin is the only drug [its generics don't work for me] that controls my medical condition and began disappearing a year ago and is now gone from the market.  No one from Roche to my doctor or pharmacists can explain why.  I have wiped out CVS in two states and am desperate.

  • Dave in CT

    Interesting. Just found this libertarian site, run by a PhD woman who actually has a past in and writes about government regulation of the drug industry.


    Home Page; Libertarian FAQ style site:

  • Dave in CT

    “In Debt Talks, Divide on What Tax Breaks Are Worth Keeping”

    “WASHINGTON — Plenty of lawmakers are against tax breaks and so-called loopholes. Unless, of course, they personally helped create them.

    The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, for instance, says he is open to ending tax breaks for special interests. But when it comes to a tax break he secured in 2008 for the owners of thoroughbred racehorses, he argues that the measure is essential for the protection of jobs in his home state of Kentucky.

    Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, says he too wants to eliminate such breaks, except when it comes to beer. He is one of the main supporters of a proposal that would cut taxes for small beer makers like the Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston.”

    Is this what the Wall St. Protestors are upset about? Oh no. They just want to ban racehorses and beer.

  • GretchenMo

    We need to get private enterprise out of the drug creation business.  We should let all the people being fired from the Post Office develop new drugs.  They could deliver the drugs to, and we could take out the pharmacist.  Sounds like a win-win!

    • TooFunny

      In your style of insensitive humor…

      Why don’t you get all of the sick people to deliver the mail, eliminate the pharmacists completely by taking only phone or web orders, then get all of the people who need drugs to deliver them to themselves.

      Still, better yet… automate WebMD and people can just diagnose themselves over the phone and on the web and your Doctors’ offices will be empty and much of the health care situation fixes itself.

      • GretchenMo

        The point is to increase the size of the government.  I don’t see how you accomplish that.

    • Ponderer

      Hero and martyr worship is based on what?  greedy people, gluttony  or selfless acts?

      There was a time when more people did things for humanity without thinking of how it will make them filthy rich.   There still are people like that, just not enough.

  • WhatGives

    Tom Ashbrook or “OnPoint” producers:

    Yes, why wasn’t a spokesperson for Big Pharma invited to sit it on the discussion. 

    Did you ask?  Did they decline?

    Did they have something to hide and your trying to divert our attention from the actual problem.

    Seems like to obvious of an oversight. 

    • GretchenMo

      I believe they only speak Klingon.

  • Joanie Mayer

    I want to know if Canada and England are experiencing the same drug shortagess

    • Modavations

      Canada yes.Read the Daily Mail.England has the Death Panel and you’re denied care when in the 60s.

      • PutUpOrShutUp

        Oh really… how about posting a link or are you to wary we might learn something on our own:

        Health Canada warned on Thursday of worsening drug shortage across the
        country. The warning covers drugs imported by different Canadian firms
        from Ohio-based Ben Venue Laboratories…

        Ben Venue was found to have manufacturing deficiencies, which could
        affect the quality of its products for leukemia, breast cancer, severe
        lower respiratory tract infection and for imaging of the blood flow in
        the brain during scans.
        However, an oncologist belied the CPA’s explanation. Cancer expert
        Ezekil Emanuel said in as New York Times article that only 10 percent
        of the shortage is due to lack of raw materials. He said the bigger
        problem is because of pharmacies’ decision to stop or hold production
        due to financial or quality problems. Emanuel said that the drug makers
        appear not in a hurry to address these problems.



    • Lanna

      I live in Canada and yes we have the same trouble here.

  • Guateenviro

    The bottom line is, we have taken morality and ethics from the medical world, greediness is our new God.  When companies only care about BIG profits, human lives are out of the equation.  They are all a mafia playing with our lives (medical community, pharmaceutical)  The American life style is to blame here.

  • Ponderer

    The right balance and moderation between the dual human roles duty to self and duty to society is muddled.  Human (our) levels of vanity and righteousness seem to be very high and dominate.  That means we all believe we are righteous, yet where we are in opposition a problem arises with regard to which side of the opposition is truly correct by any standard of measure. Unless we go to a formal setting and attempt to try each “side” before an uninterested, unbiased judge or panel, “righteousness” seems to come down to feeling righteous, not proof of such.  That means each one of us considers ourselves is all right all others are not.  Rather than working as teams to get to the bottom of the truth as a common interest, we are all assuming to know the truth and going no where as a result.  

    I agree that health care is not a normal industry in the arena of choice.  If I don’t buy a Bugatti Veyron to get myself to work everyday and buy a Ford Focus instead, I can still get to work without having to spend over 2 million dollars for the vehicle to do so.  If I have a particular need, like living with or in spite of a life threatening disease and there are only one or two drugs that fit the bill, I have few choices and based on that, in a market economy those who make the drugs I might need in such a case could charge to the limits of what I can afford to stay alive.  How much is any of our lives worth in terms of what we would pay in trade for them?   My guess is a lot.  I would also guess the lords of legal drugs guessed what I guessed.

    Record profits are good business, but are they necessarily good ethics when held up against the people’s lives continue or not continue based on record profitability?  Humane?  

    We all have to eat, we all have to live.  Where are the lines between a comfortable level of sustaining and gluttony fed by greed?

    • Brett

      “Where are the lines between a comfortable level of sustaining and gluttony fed by greed?”

      The best question of the day! 

      • NotYetDrawingLines

        In a different and better culture, the decision comes down to the individual balancing the needs of the self with those needs of the rest of society.

        For instance, if a storm is approaching, people usually hoard supplies.  This is not an appropriate response for the well being of your neighbor. 

        With corporate compensation, the board of directors will reward officers or management but usually not the rest of the company.  This is not appropriate for the good of the company.

        You might say this type of behavior goes against human nature.  But, I’ve have seen many examples were individuals have risked and sacrificed their own possible best interest for the good of another.

        An enlightened culture would be able to instill, praise and reward this behavior among its members and in turn the society would flourish and greed will be looked upon as a negative attribute.

    • Zing

      “The right balance and moderation between the dual human roles duty to self and duty to society is muddled.”

      And always will be; there is no lasting solution.

      • Dave in CT

        Thats right, and so who should choose that balance? Which is the most peaceful way to arrive at such a consensus?


        • Ponderer

          Hello Dave,
          I think extended thinking beyond self of causes and effect and how things come to us and how we affect others, not just how they affect us will help.   If we make life perhaps just a little bit less about us and consider how helping others and keeping our society healthy keeps us healthy, we might begin to join in finding solutions rather than all claim we have all the answers, yet here we are, still in a mess.

      • Ponderer

        I don’t disageee Zing, I juist believe there are ranges to either side of the balancing point that we can reach and still recover our balance and beyond that range on either side of the balancing point we get into real danger zones and risk not pulling out of the dives we get into or having great difficulty in doing so.  The solution may be moderation, ironically in some ways, a word used to define the word conservative, but does not seem to match the current image of the political “conservative” or “neo” (new conservative, that seems to have an interest more in self than in society.  Perhaps OK as long as that ideology does not tip the balance too far.  We’d all like to do as we please, but that has obvious problems when they conflict or do such things as kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.  

  • Guateenviro

    pondered !  you are so… right

  • WheelGrease

    I wonder why Big Pharma has spent over $9 Million in lobbying efforts during the first half of 2011 and over $21 Million in 2010?

    • GretchenMo

      Why did unions spend $400 million on the last presidential election?  Who knows?  I guess they just like lighting money on fire.

      • WheelGrease

        What hat did you pull that $400 Million number out of?

        This is what I found:

        Since 1990, labor unions have contributed over $667 million in election
        campaigns in the United States, of which $614 million or 92 percent
        went to support Democratic candidates. In 2008, unions spent $74.5
        million in campaign contributions, with $68.3 million going to the
        Democratic Party. Already, unions have contributed $6.5 million to the
        2010 elections, and $6 million has gone to Democrats, according to
        the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.


        That’s $74.5 Million in 2008, not $400 Million.

        So, unions raised about one tenth of Obama’s $745 Million in the 2008 presidential election:


        My point is that money buys big influence within our ‘democratic processes’ and corporations have a lot more dollars to spend along with more power to gain.

        What’s your point?


    • Scott Webb

      Don’t forget what they pay in press releases to get coverage on the radio!

  • Dave in CT

    Don’t worry about offending, I know I get riled up and go post crazy, but I am sincere, and am looking for a honing of ideas, and do appreciate everyone else’s sincere ideas.

  • Dave in CT

    When people are quick to point out the “we are the 99%” number, why are we so afraid of a system which de-centralizes power back to the people, and away from what you all seem to admit, is 1 party rule, funded by banks and corporations.

    If your government is run by banks and corporations, why do you trust it more than your fellow Americans?

    • Dave in CT

      thats not a no-government argument by the way, its a decentralize the power to the people more argument before I’m accused of anarchy again….

    • Modavations

      The govt.is a corporation.An easy fix:::Term Limits

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1328010142 Brendan O’Brien

    What a surprise that for Tom and his guests more government is the solution. They better be careful they almost admitted that Medicaid (as the single biggest buyer) is the problem.

    • Cavassar

      And who will be able to get the drugs you need when you become I’ll.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1328010142 Brendan O’Brien

        I will, when I pay for them and provide demand for them. Unless the government prevents me from doing so. which they often do.

      • Scott Webb

        Cavassar, you can bet on becoming ill if you live in America.  The drug makers bet on it because that is statistically what is happening.  You must do something different and that is assuming you won’t get ill and assuming you need drugs when you do.

  • Arthritis Associates

    rheumatoid arthrits is common disease and methotrexate is not available  (injectable). it was plagued by problems last year (glass shards), etc. Something like this happened a few years ago to ativan (generic) and it came back at a higher price. Last week daypro-generic (oxaprozin) was not available. 

  • Arthritis Associates

    colchicine (generic) was taken off the market, came back as a brand name expensive drug.. 

  • Arthritis Associates

    the FDA needs to step to the plate and fix this. they probably are just another ineffective government agency without teeth. 

    • ItsARacket

      The FDA only knows how to pick on the little guys.

      They let the big things slide or look the other way, because that’s who pays them off.  It’s kind of like our SEC.

      It’s one of the worse agencies our government has.

      No offense to the hard working civil servants who are uncorrupted.

  • Janean Fossum

    In March of 2011 in community based care nursing we found out that the c
    Carpuject Injection system with Versed- midazolam 5mg in 1cc was on back order by manufacturer. We use this medication to stop Generalized Clonic Tonic (GTC) seizures in the home with intranasal administration.
    This sudden unavailability has forced the practitioners and health care providers use alternative medications such as intensol or Diastat.
    It is my belief as an RN that some of these medications are used VERY frequently in our nation in procedures daily throughout all hospitals and out patient centers for conscious sedation. This we use with dental procedures, Scopes, cardioversion to name a few procedures it is essential for. Our production is not keeping up with the demand!

  • Lady Anne

    To your guests, the first major incorrect assumption is “we need drugs.”  No, WE DON”T – really.  Our body can heal itself if we would let it – which I do if a get an ill-ness or dis-ease or some con-dition  which is very rare and only when I have failed to protect myself from negative energy.  This country/world runs on drugs – legal and otherwise.  It is a racket.  I think this shortage is 2-fold:  the illusion to drive up prices and make pple (shepple) more dependent; and 2) the Universe’s way to say get off the damn things and stop creating al this dependency.  PPle need to get tough – and clear abt understanding the nature of dis-ease.   It is underpinned by emotional stress, negative emotional charge – left-over patterns  of bad feelings we never resolved from childhood, infancy, womb time, conception or pre-conception.  When pple release this (many techniques to do so), the body heals.   It is amazing, powerful stuff; but the public has been brainwashed:  that drugs cure anything is laughable and it is all BS – belief system  which will get you in trouble everytime.  Drug companies bet on it!  and the  FDA bows to Big Pharma.   Most pple  with cancer die from the treatment.   Ludicrous.  More pple are increasingly dying from prescriptioned drugs.  Ludicrous.   And the REAL problem is ……..pple’s FEAR of death which drives all this insane drugging of pple  & kids!  another horrible story.  It’s not the quantity of life that matters; it is the QUALITY.   Who wants to lie around in a vegetative state.  Let them go; the spirit does not die; it transcends and transforms.  This planet ain’t all there is but the insurance and pharmaceuticals, and the churches all want you to think so which is so incongruent with “church” traditional teachings.   (Well if “heaven” is so great, why do we  battle to keep sick pple here?)  Remember Einstein:  energy never goes away; it just changes form.   We are all  just PURE energy – e-ner-gy and our emotional energy just keeps on going and recycling.   Hmmm smoke on that for awhile.    Peace & Blessings

    • Scott

      Lady Anne, you should call in some time.  I called in yesterday and the screener said he liked my comment, put me on hold and my heart started beating so hard I thought I needed a Lipator and a Zoloft and and three rounds of antibiotics!

    • Lanna

      You are so right Lady Anne. But it is so easy to just pop a pill instead of discovering the healthier alternatives. Let food be your medicine.

  • Lee

    Injectable drugs are the highest regulated drug industry in the country. This requires facilities and employees of the highest caliber to perform. This is not cheap. The profit margin for many of these generic drugs is very low i.e. pennies per vial. Companies will produce what pays, and many of these drugs just don’t pay the bills.

    • Shag9y

      Lee, the pharmaceutical industry in America has the highest profit margins of any manufacturer in the history of the world, on average over 600%.  Meanwhile, the diseases these “regulated” drugs are meant to control have skyrocketed during the past 50 years — cancer, diabetes, heart disease.  What’s going on?  Do the math.  Pennies per vial is like pennies per hamburger and we don’t hear McDonalds complaining.

  • Doug from San Antonio

    I’m a student undergoing followup treatment for papillary thyroid cancer that I discovered last spring. Thyrogen, a drug that stimulates thyroid cells to intake iodine to make thyroid hormones, isn’t available; I must resort to starving my body of iodine before a radioactive I-131 whole body scan that will display remaining thyroid and malignant tissues. 

  • Jeanne

    I just heard your broadcast (at night in New York on NPR) and I am so glad to hear a more in-depth discussion of this problem.  I have metastatic breast cancer and need cancer (chemo) drugs to survive, so far almost 5 years.  I continue to work and lead a normal life otherwise.  This summer, however, the drug doxil which had kept me going normally for 18 months was no longer available in New York and in both July and August I flew out West, where due to family connections I could obtain my monthly infusions.  At the time the recommended alternative was a harsher drug that would, among other side effects, cause complete hair loss.  Doxil is still no longer available here, but in the meantime my doctor has moved me on to another drug and I am doing fine on that.  I cannot imagine that across the US we have not had quite a few deaths by now from lack of doxil, and that is just one of the vital drugs that is in short or no supply.  (also used for some childhood cancers and ovarian, etc).  I have been amazed and outraged at the paucity of media coverage on this topic, and I hope that your broadcast will help broaden attention and solutions to this crisis

    • Shag9y

      Your experience is absolutely horrible.  So sorry that you have to endure this.  To understand better why this is happening, read some books about the pharmaceutical industry.  They are in their own uprising against generic drugs.  However, understand, statistics reveal that LEGAL drugs kill about a thousand Americans per week, which also escapes the news, and we must appreciate that drugs are not vitamins.  Feed your body while it heals.  Bless you, Jeanne.

  • Chad_storer

    Interesting that no one is discussing the impact that patent laws have had, and are having, on pharmaceuticals in this country.  Patents drive the high price of new drugs because pharma companies have just a short time to recoup their investment on development before the drugs go generic.  Myopic pharma executives love this, because many new drugs make billions of dollars per year right away and stock prices pop.  Generic companies love this because they don’t have to do any R&D of their own.  Insurance companies love this because they can quickly control the price of medications once patent exclusivity has been lost.  None of the big players want a system that makes sense.  50 year patents would make drug development predictable, pressure pharma to accept price controls, put generic companies out of business and force insurance companies to pay reasonable prices for drugs.

    • Ponderer

      That’s the pat excuse Chad, but the truth seems to be if a drug is a “miracle” drug, pharmaceuticals would not have to spend more on marketing than they do on R&D.   That and advertising seems a bit like ambulance chasing and what used to be a reasoning for professional ethics about lawyers advertising.  In addition, profits are a measure of what’s left over after paying the cost of doing business.  If things are so stretched, record profits would not likely be the result, yet we don’t see a lot of major pharma on the barely staying alive list anymore than others and when they have a hit, they seem to do better than most other industries.  Perhaps because people can choose not to buy the most expensive vehicle or even their own vehicle at all to get to work in and still get themselves to work. If there is a drug that can save a person’s life, the sellers of that drug can essentially gouge the buyer for all they are worth because they know it is not a competitive market in the same way others are and people are more likely to pay a lot to save their lives than they would for a vehicle they can manage to live without.

      People can live without a lot of things without risking their lives in the same way they would without a life saving drug.

      At what point does society say, yes, it is a miracle drug and has a high value based on that, but it there is something ethically wrong with using the same as a hostage for a large ransome knowing to a point, people will pay what is excessively for the prospect of what might allow them to survive?   What if food producers suddenly decided their produce was of the same importance to survival and charged prices that people had no choice, but to pay, grow their own food or starve to death?   It would seem doubtful society would say, ‘sure, why not, you hold the strings’, name your price?

      All businesses have a cost of doing business and most do not gouge people with the price of a hit product to make up for the cost of the duds.

      It would seem clinical successes would be the best ethical advertising a drug could get, but instead pharma spend billions to use the “subtle” suggestion that if one does not use their drug, they could die and offer incentives to use their drugs over others opening the door to corruption and people getting drugs (and paying for them) not because they prove to be clinically superior to others, but because there’s a “little something in it” for those that steer patients to the company that’s offering an “unofficial” kickback.

      Many sell the same drugs in other nations at a lower price.

      Many get into the business of generics of their patented drugs, although it is not as profitable, that might be cause for an induced shortage. The other may be as a means of gouging and trying to push people back to brand drugs by buying up and hoarding generics to create a shortage.   Why give people a square deal when you can gouge them, why be honest when you can deceive,  seems to be the attitude of some, which seems exactly why people call for reform and regulation.

    • Shag9y

      Most of the drugs today are not safe to take.  However long the patents are matters not if they all kill you slowly.  Adverse reactions to drugs kill as many as 45,000 Americans annually and many, many more suffer a slow death through organ poisoning.  The medical system is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S.  Research it Chad.

  • Drew You Too

    As I listened to the show it struck me that the majority of your callers seemed quite aware of what the true nature of the problem is. It also struck me with equal if not greater force why no action ever seems to be taken. While your guest Michael Link seemed compassionate, concerned, intelligent, and well informed, he refused to acknowledge that without systemic reform nothing will change in the healthcare field. Dismissing realistic views as to why we have arrived at this point as “the most cynical” will have zero impact on the issue. Until there is a broad realization that profit has NO place in healthcare we will continue down this ever darkening path.

    • Chad

      It seems to me that taking profit out of healthcare means that you want the government to take the reigns.  The only issue is that a bureaucracy is neither innovative or efficient.  

      • ABetterWay

        Our current health care system is neither innovative or efficient.
        It’s costing everyone a fortune and people are not getting the medicine the need, as this show points out or the care they require, as our veterans and uninsured will tell you.

        Our government does a pretty good job at collecting taxes and I don’t know too many people who have a problem with getting their social security checks.

        Talk about bureaucracy, ever try to get something done your HMO won’t cover?

        • Shag9y

          I have not been to a medical doctor in 10 years.  Therefore the current health care system is absolutely efficient because I run it!

        • Drew You Too

          Our government does NOT do a pretty good job at collecting taxes. Only about half of what is collected ever reaches the Federal coffers.The other half is consumed by the agencies involved in assessment and collection. That’s a completely different subject, that remark just disturbed me.

          I’ll hold my tongue regarding the HMO comment, just feel fortunate if you have ANY sort of medical insurance whatsoever.

        • Johnh58

          Can you say defensive medicine. There is your inefficiency plus a crap load of Obamacare regulations

      • Shag9y

        Government = Big Pharma

        In 1960 Americans spent per capita $147 on health care annually.  Totay it’s over $8,000.  And illness is at all time highs.  The equation behind that is Government = Big Pharma.  Just check the resumes of who is in goverment to prove it.  Don’t believe me!

        • Tim O.

          I agree somewhat. The problem stems from the revolving door of our country. Politicians and big corporate america are increasingly becoming the same thing.

          • Kalai

            All our public/big government also have private entities (i.e. public schools vs private schools) that compete with them, pharmacies and hospitals will too.

      • Bugbuster

        “a bureaucracy is neither innovative or efficient”

        I’m sure that some bureaucracy somewhere is inefficient, but if you are implying that all bureaucracies are inefficient, then you are merely quoting ideological dogma.

    • JohnH58

      People and companies can be dishonest but this is an Obamacare and regulation issue. Nobody works for free you are not going to get unlimited supply for drugs at the price you think is fair. Your socialist utopia is a sham. 15 years ago a friend of mine son was acutely ill. My friend is a doctor in US an was in England with his son who he thought was in first stages of diabetes. He simply asked for a blood glucose,the response from the nurse was he is only dehydrated he begged for a physician finally he yield and got a glucose it was extremely high and almost slipped ino a coma. So you think there is rationing and shortages now just wait to Obamacare really kicks in.

  • Shag9y

    In Stephen Fried’s book written in 1998, Bitter Pills, he writes BACK THEN how the pharmaceutical industry MARKETING operates, creating a public scare of shortages.  Tom, are you really that baffled?  It’s the marketing department, stupid!  Not you, Tom, you’re not stupid.  We are, if we act all surprised.  To read about this does not make us cynical, as your (caring) guests inferred, just less stupid.

  • Bugbuster

    This is more proof, if any were needed, that medicine for profit is unworkable and barbaric.

  • Miriam D. Wagner

    I am a cancer patient. I have had two infusions of Doxil. It is now no longer available. I’ve been given a substitute for Doxil. Since I’ve only had one infusion of this drug I have no way of knowing whether or not it is working. This shortage is an outrage.

  • scott gardner

    My name is Scott Gardner and my wife Eileen Gardner was given a medication, Actiq for pain.  It comes in a lolipop form and cost 100.50 each.  Despite the lack of “income producing” medications she was able to get these meds at a cost of 2.5 million over 4 years despite telling workers comp. that there was a drug that was on the market at a cost of 2800.00 per month not 58k per month.  Ky. workers comp. ignored this a continued to authorize the medication despite the cost savings available.? If you would like more information about this please contact me at grandy213@aol.com.  Thank you, and keep up the excellent work.  Scott Gardner

  • Butch Davis

    the only entity to profit from these shortages are in insurance companies. It’s cheaper if you die.

    • Kmugilan

      You are right, if you get very expensive, they rather you die!

  • Debbie

    Can you say “bunkers”?

  • Karyl Severson

    These shortages have been documented for months.  And they are not world-wide, but seem to be confined to the USA.  What does this tell us?  I’d sure like to know the REAL story, because I haven’t seen anything that tells me what is really going on.

  • CRose

    How dumb is this. Okay – there is a need for these drugs. They will be bought. People should make them. People manage to produce things that are worth money on a regular basis. I think they’re just trying to scare us into making drugs more expensive.

  • Harrynicandro

    i argue that drug shortages are caused by the use of MAC pricing.  the data for this pricing is too old.  as more manufacturers are told there price is to high for a pharmacy to make money after 3rd party reimbursement they cannot sell there product so they simply stop making it.  its simple economics. i see this in retail pharmacy all the time.  im sure that injectable generics are just as bad

  • http://www.onlinemedicalstore.net Generic Viagra

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    much to argue about. It is like the following universal truth that you can not
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  • Honorablack

    Supply and demand. Drug companies are in the business of making money from the manufacture and sale of drugs. If they create a shortage, the price will go up. Econ 101.

  • Rationalthnkr

    Honorblack must work for the Obama administration. I’ve read several articles about the drug shortage and he keeps posting the exact same comment.  What changed in the last two years? Obamacare is being phased in.  It is quite simple, and entirely the fault of the president. logic 101.

    • Mjkcpt

      In order to utilize logic you have to use facts.  You seem to be implying that drug costs have risen significantly in the past two years.  They haven’t, they have been steadily rising for 40 years.

  • Johnh58

    This article is bullsh$t. NPR the newyork times. Liberal’s wake up. The current and the future of cost of Obamacare are at work.

  • Pingback: Can you get the medicine you need? Maybe not. « Perusing Balance

  • Anonymous

    It’s not just cancer meds as they would have you believe, i am on medication i have to fill every month. out of about 15 walgreens in the area west of houston where i live only 1 of them has MY MEDICINE  each month! WAKE UP PEOPLE WE HAVE JUST ABOUT LOST OUR COUNTRY  TO THESE RADICAL LIBERALS. NOW IS THE TIME TO SPEAK OUT!  THE SQUEEZE IS ON THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES NOW…TOMMORROW IT WILL BE YOU!

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  • http://twitter.com/SideEffectsAdde SideEffectsAdderall

    Adderall drug shortage is because Shire wants to increase profits. Adderall is the only drug to increase in price AFTER the patent has ended http://sideeffectsadderall.org/adderall-and-ritalin-shortage-of-2011-and-2012

Aug 29, 2014
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War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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Drought in California, earthquake in Napa. We look at broken bottles and the health of the American wine industry.

Aug 28, 2014
Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown before the start of his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.  (AP)

The message that will last out of Ferguson with New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

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