My horribly long commute is good for one thing: it gives me a lot of uninterrupted time to read. This morning on the train, I read a Washington Post article detailing serious prescription drug shortages nationwide — and immediately thought of the potential impact on your employees and prescription drug plans. 

According to the article, a “record 211 medications became scarce in 2010 — triple the number in 2006 — and at least 89 new shortages have been recorded through the end of March, putting the nation on track for far more scarcities.”

The shortages, WaPo reports, are even causing providers to ration medicines. Yes, ration. Yes, in America. Unbelievable. Further, while there’s no one officially tracking the shortages, there have been anecdotal reports of patient injury and deaths, the article reports.

So, what’s going on? According to WaPo, consolidation among drugmakers is a major reason. Apparently, M&A activity has meant there are fewer manufacturers to make medicines, especially older and less profitable ones.

Ah, well of course. It always comes down to money one way or another, doesn’t it?

So, speaking of money, what affect do you think these potentially record-breaking shortages could have on the cost of your company’s prescription drug plan, the premiums employees pay, or unintended costs associated with injury or adverse interaction from alternative drugs when a patient’s primary medication is unavailable? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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