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Blumenthal Drug Shortage Survey Exposes Damaging Effects in CT

(Hartford, CT)  – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today announced the results of a survey of Connecticut hospitals that he conducted to assess the effects of the drug shortage crisis on patients in the state. Blumenthal was joined by patients, hospital administrators, and physicians who described the disastrous consequences to health care resulting from drug shortages.

Blumenthal said, “This survey demonstrates irrefutably that the drug shortage crisis in Connecticut is undercutting patient care – endangering lives and inflating health care costs by millions of dollars annually. A mounting public health crisis requires strong remedies. Decisive steps are needed to ensure that life-saving drugs reach patients. Rampant price gouging and anti-consumer practices, disruptions in the drug supply chain, and manufacturing complications all must be addressed. To protect patients, it’s vital to fight grey market purveyors who overprice products critical to treatment.”

Susan Block, an ovarian cancer patient at Hartford Hospital, was present to speak about how she worked with Blumenthal’s office to secure a critical chemotherapy drug that became unavailable to her mid-treatment due to manufacturing problems that created a worldwide shortage of the drug.  

The survey, conducted in 2011, examined the frequency of drug shortages at each hospital, the impact on patients, and the effects on hospital operations. Consistent with national figures, data provided to Blumenthal’s office from Connecticut Hospitals indicated that from 2008-2009, the number of drug shortages among hospitals surveyed increased by an average of 49.6%. From 2009-2010, this average increased by 76.1%.

The survey was part of a comprehensive set of actions Blumenthal undertook last year to explore the extent of the drug shortage issue and devise solutions to help patients and hospitals when these shortages occur. Blumenthal has also called for strong remedies to address the price gouging and drug hoarding practices that result from drug shortages. Blumenthal’s call for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the drug shortage spike in the United States helped prompt an Executive Order by President Obama that formed a task force between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify and address any possible market manipulation. 

Click here for a summary of the survey.