Dr. Kate Scannell: The high cost of our prescription drug shortage
December 10, 2011
Contra Costa Times
By Dr. Kate Scannell
We should not need to make certain laws. Without requiring state or federal legislation, we should automatically know that it's wrong to, say, kick a puppy. To bully gay students in public schools. To maliciously impersonate someone through social media with the aim of harming them. To not inform your customers when their personal information has been stolen from your company's computer databases.
Yet, admittedly, laws against these behaviors arose precisely because puppies were being abuses, gay students were being harassed, people were ruthlessly slandered on the Internet, and unwitting consumers were falling prey to identity theft. And while such laws may fail to convince a puppy-kicker or cyberbully of their moral merit, still, they serve to discourage some bad behavior with threats of penalties and public sanction.
This brings us to current news about our nation's critical prescription drug shortage and a related bill being introduced next week in Congress. The new bill aims to penalize "unscrupulous drug distributors" who price-gouge hospitals for lifesaving medications in current short supply. If the bill is enacted, it would become a federal crime for distributors to demand hugely marked-up prices for these scarce drugs -- as many of them are now doing. Read more