On average, drugs in short supply are being marked up by 650% on the gray market, according to an analysis released last week by the Premier Healthcare Alliance. Drugs in short supply have led to a crisis among healthcare providers, causing them to expend critical resources to obtain needed drugs – or replacements. Gray markets have grossly taken advantage of the recent crisis by selling the critical items at any price the market will bear.

The “gray market” is a distribution channel – while legal – that is unofficial, unauthorized, or unintended by the original manufacturer of a product.

For over a year, the healthcare system has experienced an increase in the shortage of drugs vital to treatment. At the end of 2010, more than 240 drugs were in short supply or completely unavailable and more than 400 generic varieties were back-ordered for 5 or more days. The majority of drugs in short supply are used for sedation, emergency care, and chemotherapy.

While the average markup was 650%, even higher prices have been seen in certain critical care areas. The highest markups seen in the 10 manufacturer back-ordered drugs are:

Labetalol (cardiology) – 4,533%

Cytarabine (oncology) – 3,980%

Dexamethasone 4mg inj. (oncology and rheumatology) – 3,857%

Leucovorin (oncology) – 3,170%

Propofol (critical care sedation and surgery) – 3,161%

Papavarine (critical care) – 2,979%

Protamine (critical care) – 2,752%

Levophed(critical care) – 2,642%

Sodium Chloride Concentrate (critical care) – 2,350%

Furosemide Inj. (critical care) – 1,721%

Download gray market analysis

Physician’s Weekly wants to know…

  • In the past 2 years, have you noticed significantly higher shortages in drugs you need/use?
  • Have you been a victim of drug markups from the gray market?