William "Bill" Bandy [1928-2013], the late founder and CEO of Dallas-based United Medical Supply, a leading regional healthcare distribution firm, was among the first to speak out about the harm that GPOs inflict on American patients, practitioners, and taxpayers.
For at least a quarter century, long after he retired and almost up until the day he died in April 2013 at age 85, Bill fought valiantly to expose and reform the GPO system. He was a courtly, generous, and good-humored man whose favorite literary character was Cyrano de Bergerac. Like Cyrano, Bill refused to bend on matters of principle: "...he lives without compromise, free in both his thoughts and his acts."
Cyrano de Bergerac Act V, Scene II
Physicians Against Drug Shortages (PADS) is a grassroots patient advocacy group whose goal is to end the chronic, unprecedented generic drug shortages by restoring integrity and market competition to the broken generic prescription drug and hospital group purchasing industries. Most of our members are anesthesiologists and critical care specialists who are outraged that they can no longer obtain reliable supplies of the drugs they need to properly treat their patients. As a result of these shortages, millions of patients are suffering needlessly, and in many cases dying. Most of the drugs in short supply are sterile injectable chemotherapies and anesthetics administered in hospitals, outpatient facilities and clinics.
These massive shortages are simply unacceptable in what is supposed to be a free market economy. To end this crisis, which was entirely preventable, we believe it is essential to address the underlying cause, not the symptoms. Having thoroughly examined this issue, we’re convinced that the anticompetitive contracting practices, kickbacks, market manipulation and other abuses of giant hospital group purchasing organizations (GPOs) are the root cause.
Unfortunately, most of what has been written about the causes of this public health emergency reflects a lack of understanding by the media, the healthcare community, and policymakers about how these drugs are manufactured, distributed and purchased in the U. S. healthcare supply chain.
By making our case in the mainstream and social media, including this website, we're working to mobilize public support to prevail on Congress to end the pernicious practices that have given rise to this public health emergency. We believe our efforts are starting to bear fruit.
Since the publication of our New York Times op-ed of September 3, 2013, "How a Cabal Keeps Generics Scarce," the Food and Drug Administration, which for years avoided referring publicly to GPOs in connection with the shortages, has acknowledged their key role. And in its inaugural report on drug shortages released February 10, 2014, the GAO cited GPOs as a "potential underlying cause" of the shortages.
PADS traces its origins to conversations in early 2012 between financial journalist Phil Zweig, whose interest in anticompetitive GPO practices dates back to 1997, and Joel Zivot MD, chief of cardiothoracic intensive care at Emory University. Over the next several months, Dr. Zivot became increasingly skeptical of the official explanation that the causes were "complex and multifactorial." Matters came to a head at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Washington, D. C. At a panel discussion on drug shortages, he publicly challenged this explanation, asserting that the GPO industry had undermined the generic injectable marketplace. Several colleagues rushed up to him after the meeting seeking more information. This led to the formation of PADS in December 2012.
Full disclosure: PADS members have no conflicts of interest and no vested financial interest in this issue. PADS receives no outside funding. We are all working on this project pro bono and are covering our expenses out of our own pockets.
We welcome new members and friends who would like to work with us to stop the shortages.
Robert A. Campbell MD
President, Pennsylvania Society of Anesthesiologists
Phillip L. Zweig MBA
New York, NY
Sean Adams MD
Curtis Baysinger MD
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Frederick C. Blum MD
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
West Virginia University School of Medicine
James W. Bush MD
Margaret (Meg) Clapp R.Ph M.Div
Hospital Pharmacy Consultant
Former chief of pharmacy, Massachusetts General Hospital
Ezio Cutarelli PharmD
Community Hospital Staff Pharmacist
Paul Danziger Esq.
Partner, Danziger & DeLlano LP
Executive producer & screenwriter, PUNCTURE, the Movie
Rosemary Gibson MA
Healthcare Policy Advisor
Washington, D. C.
Mark S. Godec MD
Falls Church, VA
Mitchell Goldstein MD
Associate Professor, Pediatrics
Division of Neonatology
Loma Linda University Children's Hospital
Loma Linda, CA
Clare Gray MD
Amy Faith Ho MD
Resident in Emergency Medicine
University of Chicago Medicine
Dan Lorenzo MD
Pain Management Anesthesiologist
Mollyann March MD
Marion Mass MD
Co-founder & Executive Vice President
Practicing Physicians of America
Narayanachar S. Murali MD
William J. Murphy PhD
Associate Professor, Humanities & Social Sciences
New England Institute of Technology
East Greenwich, RI
Franklin D. Nash MD, Principal
Center for Scientific Analysis of Policy, LLC
Harry G. Parr DO, MBA
Royal Oaks, MI
William "Bill" Price Esq.
Former United States Attorney, Western District of Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, OK
Michael A. Rie MD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology
University of Kentucky Medical Center
Amar Setty MD
Tomasz "Tommy" Stryjewski MD
Massachusetts General Hospital
Wendy Zens RN
Harvard Vanguard Health Associates
Joel Zivot MD
Chief of Cardio-thoracic Intensive Care
Emory University Medical Center