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WASHINGTON -- The number of new drugs added to the shortage list has fallen off sharply in the last year, but those already on the list show few signs of moving off, according to the University of Utah Drug Information Service.
Existing shortages continue to be a problem "because it is taking a long time for the companies to fix their [manufacturing] quality problems" that cause the shortages,Erin Fox, PharmD, director of the Utah center, toldMedPage Today.
Shortages of antimicrobials,chemotherapyagents, and electrolyte and parenteral nutrition products -- such as sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, calcium gluconate, calcium chloride -- continue to be a problem, Fox said.
The FDA has declined to release updated information on the 2013 drug shortages until the new calendar year, spokesman Stephen King toldMedPage Today. He added that the FDA successfully prevented 282 shortages last year.
"However, there is nothing in FDASIA that makes the manufacturers devote more resources to quality or to generic products over brand products, so the shortages that we have are persisting until the factories are updated," Fox said.
In the case of IV electrolytes, the shortages are occurring because one manufacturer -- American Regent in Shirley, N.Y. -- ran into production troubles and had to shut down entirely.
Fox noted that a July 23 decision in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit could hurt FDA efforts to alleviate drug shortages. The 3-judge panel permanentlyenjoined the FDA from allowing imported versionsof thiopental -- a drug used in executions -- into interstate commerce.