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University of Chicago’s Rena Conti, PhD, Testifies Before Senate Panel on Drug Shortages

Rita Conti, PhD Photo by Rick Reinhard

More than 200 prescription drugs in this country were in short supply in 2011, triple the number from just five years ago. That has gained the attention of members of Congress, who have held hearings since September to investigate the reasons behind the drug shortages.

Rena M. Conti, PhD, assistant professor of health policy and economics at the University of Chicago, traveled to Capitol Hill to testify at the latest congressional hearing by the Senate Finance Committee on Dec. 7, 2011. She tapped her research work to address some of the causes of the drug shortage problem. Conti has studied the financing and organization of medical care, particularly in the use of specialty treatments such as oncology drugs.

“My assessment of the causes of current shortages suggests the highly competitive global market for the supply of generic specialty drugs, and firms’ limited excess capacity to produce these drugs and absorb sudden alterations in the cost of production, are largely to blame,” she said before the Senate panel. “Furthermore, the unique nature of purchasing specialty drugs restricts the ability of some providers to access the limited supply of these drugs at reasonable prices.”

Read Conti's full testimony:
An Economic Assessment of the Causes and Policy Implications of Current Specialty Drug Shortages (PDF)

December 2011

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