Emergency rooms play a crucial role in the proper functioning of health care in the United States. During any given year, 45% of American people visit the ER, but a recent study published by the Academic Emergency Medicine journal suggests that not all of them can receive help. According to the study, between 2001 and 2014, drug shortages in ERs throughout the U.S. increased by a staggering 400%. For some patients, this translated into prolonged duration of their diseases, permanent injury and even death. As the FDA struggles to resolve the issue, but unsurprisingly only makes matters worse, the actual cause of the spike in drug shortages remains neglected.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the study in question put together data from the University of Utah Drug Information Service. The latter has been keeping track of drug shortages through a public website that receives reports on behalf of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. According to these reports, 1,800 drug shortages were submitted between 2001 and 2014, 34% of which took place in emergency rooms. It seems that, although the number of shortages was lower up to 2007, the following years witnessed a 435% increase. FULL REPORT