A publicly owned pharmaceutical industry is the best solution to stopping drug shortages.

by Dana Brown and Christopher Morten, Stat

Drug shortages in the United States are at a record high. At least 14 essential generic cancer drugs are currently in shortage, forcing patients and doctors to make difficult decisions to delay or ration first-line treatments, or accept second-best treatmentsADHD treatmentsantibioticschildren’s acetaminophen, and many other critical medicines are also in short supply.

But most of the solutions being discussed are just Band-Aids on a broken system. They would do nothing to transform the incentives that routinely produce shortages and other market failures.

drugs of various types arrayed on a white background

What we really need — for the health of our economy and society — is a robust public option in pharmaceuticals that produces and distributes essential medicines, such as cancer treatments. Publicly accountable public agencies can assure resilient supply chains and offer medicines at or even below cost, because keeping people healthy without bankrupting them in the process is good for society (and cost-effective to boot). This already happens at scales large and small all over the world, including BrazilSwedenCuba, the U.K.IndiaThailand, and more.

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