Critical drugs are coming up short

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Critical drugs are coming up short all over our country. Doctors are being forced to put patients on treatments that don't work as well as potentially life-saving drugs.

Every time Carole Nelson pond walks into a pharmacy, she knows she might not get the medicine she needs. She takes 30 milligrams of oxycodone every six hours to manage the intense pain caused by spinal stenosis. "If I don't have the medication my body will go into withdrawal."

Oxycodone and other controlled substances like the ADHD drug Adderall are becoming harder to find because, "It is abuseable and its recognized as being abuseable on the streets," says Dr. Peter Preganz, Pain Management Specialist.

Meanwhile, there's a much bigger problem nationwide. Short supplies of more than 260 drugs. “It is very stressful to deal with a diagnosis of cancer, but imagine adding on top of that the fact that the drug you need to treat your disease is not available," says CG Bona E. Benjamin, B.S. Pharm. Director, Medication-Use Quality Improvement American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Carey Fitzmaurice has stage three ovarian cancer. “I was put on Doxil. My blood numbers were as low as they have ever been."

But after just four injections of Doxil her hospital ran out of the drug. "It was an extremely confusing situation."

Nine months later, Carey was finally able to get back on the generic form of Doxil. Last year alone, more than 500,000 cancer patients were told they were not going to get the treatment they needed. "I will continue to speak out about the issue."

Meanwhile, Carole wonders how she'd handle not having her medication. "I have been nervous."

Experts say with planning, patients might be able to avoid problems due to shortages of their medications.

Talk with your doctor about the current state of your prescriptions and discuss what other treatment options are available.

To find out if a drug you need is in short supply or no longer available you can visit the FDA or ASHP websites.

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists: