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Baking Soda Shortage Has Hospitals Frantic, Delaying Treatments and Surgeries

Sodium bicarbonate — commonly known as baking soda — is in short supply, much to the consternation of health facilities that use solutions of it for everything from chemotherapy to open heart surgery. As noted by The New York Times, this is just one of many drug shortfalls that have occurred in the past few years — typically happening with cheaper, generic drugs, while high-dollar ones remain in good supply.

While the article doesn’t delve into Big Pharma profit margins, I strongly suspect this has more to do with suppliers concentrating on big moneymaker drugs than anything else, particularly since the 21st Century Cures Act passed. With this act, companies are now focusing on high-dollar experimental drugs and vaccines that the act promises to fast-track.

The act also grants "breakthrough" medical devices expedited regulatory approval and allows drug companies to team up with insurance companies to promote off-label uses for their drugs — all marvelous incentives for looking toward the big bucks as opposed to fulfilling simple generic medical needs.

If you haven’t heard about the 21st Century Cures Act, you need to know it was written largely by the pharmaceutical and health care industries and basically threatens to undermine public safety by making it easier for experimental drugs and vaccines to come to market without being adequately tested for safety.

With harm to patients at an all-time high in this country, and preventable medical errors and drug side effects being the third leading cause of death in the U.S., you would think that the act would have at least addressed the need to maintain good supplies of lifesaving generic drugs and components too, such as bicarbonate soda, but it doesn’t.

Instead, by tying together funds for increased research and loosened regulatory controls across the board, it greases Pharma’s bottom line, leaving hospitals on their own to find simple, already-on-the-market, generic drugs.
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