President Barack Obama has taken steps to reduce shortages of prescription drugs needed to treat chronic conditions by issuing an executive order Monday that instructs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action.
According to Fox News, the FDA reported 178 drug shortages last year and an increase in shortages this year. Among the drugs that are most scarce are cancer drugs, anesthetics, drugs used in emergency medicine, and electrolytes needed for intravenous feeding.
The FDA blames the shortages on drug companies’ meddling in supply by discontinuing certain drugs to make room for newer, more profitable alternatives. It also cites manufacturing and quality problems as reasons for drug shortages.
The most recent executive action comes just a week after Obama issued the order implementing the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and restructuring how students repay student loans without Congressional input. According to Fox, the President’s increasingly common use of the executive order is seen as a way to make him appear to be a counterbalance against Republicans in Congress who recently blocked his jobs proposal.