To the Rescue! 'Obama Tries to Speed Response To Shortages in Vital Medicines'

The Times portrayed President Obama to the rescue in Monday's front-page story by health reporter Gardiner Harris, 'Obama Tries to Speed Response To Shortages in Vital Medicines.' Obama, bless his heart, still believes 'in the power of government to improve people's lives,' unlike those bottom-line obsessed Republicans.

President Obama will issue an executive order on Monday that the administration hopes will help resolve a growing number of critical shortages of vital medicines used to treat life-threatening illnesses, among them several forms of cancer and bacterial infections.

The order offers drug manufacturers and wholesalers both a helping hand and a gloved fist in efforts to prevent or resolve shortages that have worsened greatly in recent years, endangering thousands of lives.

It instructs the F.D.A. to do three things: broaden reporting of potential shortages of certain prescription drugs; speed reviews of applications to begin or alter production of these drugs; and provide more information to the Justice Department about possible instances of collusion or price gouging.


Still, Mr. Obama's order and others he has issued recently reflect his belief in the power of government to improve people's lives. By contrast, top Republican legislators and presidential candidates have almost uniformly argued that resolving the nation's economic and other problems depends mostly on scaling back or ending government regulations to allow the free market to function more effectively. No regulatory agency touches people's lives more thoroughly than the F.D.A., which regulates 25 cents of every dollar spent by consumers.

Along with Mr. Obama's order, on Monday the administration will release two government reports that mostly blame a dysfunctional marketplace for drug shortages, directly contradicting assertions by some commentators that government rules are to blame. The analyses found that 74 percent of the medicines in short supply in 2010 were sterile injectibles, the kind of drugs delivered in hospitals or clinics to treat cancer or anesthetize patients before surgery.