Unprecedented drug shortages are threatening the lives of cancer patients and other seriously ill people, and the Obama administration’s plan to tackle them is just a small step toward solving a complex problem. Just how big the shortage is depends on how you count, but this is a record-setting year. The FDA reported 178 drug shortages last year and says it sees more this year. 

Obama’s executive order instructs the FDA to push more companies to come forward about potential shortages, to speed applications to change production of those drugs, and to alert the Justice Department about possible collusion or price-gouging. The administration also supports legislation pending in Congress that would go a step further and require more industry reporting of shortages.

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