While there are several reasons for drug shortages in the United States, two of the most significant reasons identified for drug shortages are manufacturing issues including issues with quality control, and problems with new drug suppliers gaining online access. To facilitate access to drugs and to combat the drug shortage problem, for over 100 years, Group Purchasing Organizations or GPOs have been working with hospitals, drug manufacturers and government agencies to ensure an adequate supply of drugs is available for consumers.
One way GPOs work to combat the drug shortage problem is by negotiating drug prices from manufacturers directly with hospitals and other healthcare providers. GPOs are able to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers by buying drugs in bulk, lowering the cost for health care providers. These lower costs are then passed down to the consumer. While healthcare providers do enter into contracts, GPOs also help healthcare services renegotiate contracts as needed, continuing to ensure healthcare providers and in turn consumers, receive an adequate supply of and the best possible price on drugs.
To ensure GPOs are following ethical standards, they are constantly reviewed and have been approved by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, not to mention many medical researchers and nearly all of the hospitals within the United States.
Despite the success of and approval of GPOS, the organization Physicians Against Drug Shortages are against the use of GPOs. Members of the Physicians Against Drug Shortages do not have expertise in the area of supply and demand, but nonetheless continue to campaign against GPOs. The leader of their organization, Phillip Zweig, has led a radical smear campaign against GPOs by intimidating researchers who find benefits to the use of GPOs. Mr. Zweig has even gone as far as contacting universities demanding researchers be reprimanded by their university. Other extreme measures Mr. Zweig has taken against GPOs is to blame them for the AIDS epidemic as well as lead a conspiracy theory of the murder of two U.S. attorneys and corruption of two U.S. Senators.
In the end, despite Mr. Zweig’s outlandish claims, there have been no studies or evidence linking GPOs to drug shortages in the U.S.