What We're Reading: Drug Shortages Rise Sharply in EDs

What we're reading, January 11, 2016: drug shortages in the emergency departments have quadrupled since 2008; the government has done little to verify people enrolling after Obamacare deadline under special enrollment categories; and Pfizer increased the prices of 100 drugs.

Since 2008, drug shortages in US emergency departments have quadrupled, according to researchers at George Washington University. Some of the reasons for these shortages are because manufacturers can’t meet demands or have simply stopped making the drugs, reported United Press International. Drug shortages may have declined from 2002 to 2007, but increased 435% between 2008 and 2014.

As the Obama administration pushes for more people to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, including adding more than 30 “special enrollment” categories, insurers are concerned more people enrolling after the deadline will drive up costs. According to The New York Times, the federal government has done little to verify the eligibility of late enrollees for these special enrollment categories. Insurers, like Aetna, highlighted the issue that with little verification, individuals can wait until they are sick and drop coverage after they receive healthcare services “making the annual open enrollment period meaningless.”

During 2015 there was increased scrutiny on rising drug prices, but that didn’t stop Pfizer from raising US prices for more than 100 drugs. Reuters reported that there were no price reductions and that some drugs—Dilantin, Menest, Nitrostat, Tykosyn, and Tygacil—were all increased by 20%. Lyrica’s price increased 9.4%, while the breast cancer drug Ibrance, which already cost $118,200 a year received a 5% increase.