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August 16, 2023

Prescription Drug Shortages Make Treatment Decisions Difficult for Doctors and Patients

Ask students: What is one ADHD medication in short supply? How long has it been since drug shortages in the U.S. were last this high?


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The U.S. is in the midst of an ongoing prescription drug shortage with more and more medication in short supply for longer stretches of time. Those medications include chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, ADHD medication and more. It’s making treatment decisions difficult for doctors and patients. Laura Barrón-López discussed the shortages with Erin Fox.

For a transcript of this story, click here. If time is short, check out the story, A ‘perfect storm’ led to an ADHD medication shortage. Here’s why, by NewsHour’s Kenichi Serino,…

News wrap alternative: Check out recent segments from the NewsHour, and choose the story you’re most interested in watching. You can make a Google doc copy of discussion questions that work for any of the stories here.

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Five Facts

  1. What is one ADHD medication in short supply?
  2. How long has it been since drug shortages in the U.S. were last this high?
  3. Why has the drug shortage happened, according to FDA data?
  4. When did drug shortages increase by approximately 30 percent?
  5. Who tracks the shortages?

Focus Questions

Why is it important for the government to be able to communicate effectively with businesses? Do you think the government is a doing a good job communicating effectively with the American public?

News analysis: Why are experts valuable interview subjects for topics the general public does not have much knowledge of or access to?

Alternative: See, Think, Wonder: What did you notice? What did the story make you think? What story would you want to find out more about? Where would you go to learn more?

For More

What students can do: Write to your legislators to encourage them to support legislation that will help with the shortage. Not sure where to start? Look up your state and federal lawmakers here.

Student Video of the Day:

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This lesson was written by Benjamin Thernstrom, a high school senior in Arlington, Virginia, and PBS NewsHour Classroom intern, with editing by Vic Pasquantonio. Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

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PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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