Physicians can't count on the market to make vital drugs available [Letter]

January 11, 2014

I second Del. Dan K. Morhaim's concern about shortages of basic drugs ("Medication crisis," Jan. 5).

An example is the inexpensive yet effective drug called atropine. I have used this medication for years, both in hospitals and in my private office, to treat a common problem.

Some simple procedures, such as drawing blood or inserting an IUD, can cause a reaction resulting in slow pulse and low blood pressure, often with fainting and sometimes seizures.

This reaction can be blocked or easily reversed with a small dose of atropine. However, my office was unable to obtain a supply of this drug for more than a year.

Although the law of supply and demand works well in many settings, for some essential but low-profit drugs the result is uneven supply and wide variations in cost. Oversight is needed to ensure an adequate supply of necessary drugs is available for safe and effective care. We cannot rely on profit-minded drug companies.

Dr. John LaFerla, Chestertown

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