President Obama couldn't wait to trample over the legislative process again. This week, he issued his 98th executive order on an irresistibly exploitable policy issue: prescription drug shortages. Soon, "One a Day" won't just be a multivitamin. It'll be the rate of White House administrative fiats.
Federal officials darkly suggest that selfish industry "stockpiling" is endangering Americans' lives. "If we find out that prices are being driven up because shortages are being made worse by manipulations of companies or distributors," the White House further threatened, "agencies will be empowered to stop those practices. And the FDA and the Department of Justice will be investigating any kinds of abuses that would lead to drug shortages."
As usual, the underlying reasons for these marketplace conditions are gobsmackingly complicated. As usual, a significant portion of the fault lies with the government—not evil corporate "abuses." And as usual, Obama's unilaterally imposed "solutions" promise to do more harm than good.
There's no question that drug shortages exist and that they have been on the rise. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 246 drugs are now scarce. It's a record. Why? I've rounded up just a few of the reasons:
Recall and liability headaches have led manufacturers to get out of the business. Moreover, as low-priced generic drugs, sterile injectables just aren't as attractive to pharma companies already weathering tough economic times. When drugs go off patent, the prices decrease. The rest is elementary.
"If the costs associated with making a drug begin to outweigh the profits," the New England Journal of Medicine explained, "companies may wish to discontinue production of the drug in favor of a newer, more profitable product. If the number of companies making an older drug decreases, and there is a delay or problem in manufacturing, shortages can and do occur."
Emanuel, the controversial former Obama health care guru, provided an unexpected shot in the Democrats' market-bashing arm in a recent New York Times op-ed: "You don't have to be a cynical capitalist to see that the long-term solution is to make the production of generic cancer drugs more profitable."
But instead of a sober debate about the wildly divergent reasons for some of these shortfalls, Obama's perpetual campaign machine gave us taxpayer-funded videos that yank the heartstrings and smear pharmaceutical companies. Instead of an honest assessment of the proposed government "fixes," Washington bureaucrats are using patients as human shields to disguise new power grabs.
Unfortunately, the only cure for Team Obama's overdose of toxic demagoguery lies at the ballot box. We can't wait.
Michelle Malkin [email her] is the author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s review. Click here for Michelle Malkin's website. Michelle Malkin is also author of Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild and the just-released Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies.