Last year, the number of drug shortages reached a record high, and medicine scarcities have continued at a rapid pace in 2011.
The shortages have hit patients in the hospital particularly hard because they include cancer drugs, anesthetics used in surgery, and "sterile injectables" - medicines given by injection or intravenously. But there have also been shortages of medicines that Americans take by mouth each day.
FDA says the number of drug shortages has nearly tripled over the last six years - jumping from 61 drug products in 2005 to 178 in 2010 - and that doesn't include shortages of vaccines, immune globulin products, and other biologics, or products made from blood, tissue, or other biological source.
During 2010, quality and manufacturing problems were to blame for many of the shortages in the United States, says Ilisa Bernstein, deputy director of compliance in FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Shortages were fueled by many different factors, including a lack of raw materials used in the manufacturing process; increased demand for some drugs; and a company's business decision to stop making some older, less profitable drugs.
There have also been shortages of prescription medicines that many Americans take by mouth each day, including some drugs prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
In response to the drug shortages, the Food and Drug Administration is doing what it can to prevent and lessen the severity of the shortages, so patients can continue to receive the medicines they need.
To find out what to do if your medicine is in short supply, visit:
For a List of Current Drug Shortages, Visit: