Re “How a Cabal Keeps Generics Scarce,” by Margaret Clapp, Michael A. Rie and Phillip L. Zweig (Op-Ed, Sept. 3):
Health care group purchasing organizations, or G.P.O.’s, are taking a variety of innovative steps to mitigate the effect of generic drug shortages. All G.P.O. contracts are voluntary and the product of competitive market negotiations.
All hospitals can buy “off contract” and often do. Contracts can be canceled and pricing regularly adjusted. Manufacturers regularly and quickly adjust pricing of G.P.O. contracts when they experience shocks to production.
Hospitals use G.P.O.’s to aggregate their purchasing power and deliver cost savings. Group purchasing organizations do not manufacture, compound, sell or take title to these drugs or any drugs in shortage.
G.P.O.’s work vigorously with hospitals, manufacturers and distributors to help maintain a safe and reliable supply of products for health care providers. They have nothing to do with generic drug shortages, a fact that drug manufacturers and hospitals acknowledge.
The true causes of drug shortages are manufacturing problems, quality issues and barriers to getting new suppliers on line when supply is disrupted. Any effort to link G.P.O.’s to drug shortages is a dangerous distraction.