Medication Shortages Are Everywhere in 2024… These States Are the Worst

By: Georgia McKoy | Published: Feb 05, 2024

The US is facing a significant drug shortage crisis, affecting one in five citizens who cannot access the medications they need each month. This shortage spans a range of essential drugs, including those for cancer, epilepsy, and type 2 diabetes. 

There are various causes for this shortage, including manufacturing issues, supply chain disruptions, and natural disasters.

Breaking Down the Shortage Statistics

According to a ValuePenguin analysis of US census data, 19% of people surveyed faced a shortage of medicine or medical equipment. They found that 15% of these people couldn’t get a prescription medicine, 5% couldn’t get an over-the-counter medicine, and 3% didn’t have access to home medical equipment.

Metal shelving in a pharmacy stocked with a variety of medication boxes and packages, with different brand names visible, in an organized layout against a gray wall

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This data highlights the widespread impact of the shortage, affecting both prescription and over-the-counter medications.

The Aftermath of 2022’s Supply Chain Problems

The Daily Mail reports that the supply chain issues that plagued 2022 continue to impact medical supplies in the present day. The report suggests that these ongoing issues are partly to blame for current medical shortages. 

A collection of various medication capsules and pills in different shapes and colors, including blue, orange, and white, arranged in multiple opened and partially used packs

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Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role by causing historic declines in the manufacturing industry and increasing the demand for various medications and equipment.

Consequences of Medication Shortages

The repercussions of these shortages are severe. 

A close-up view of two individuals on a bed; one is handing over a strip of white pills to an elderly patient. The patient appears to be sitting up in bed, dressed in casual home wear, with a blanket over their lap

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The Daily Mail reveals that the report found that around 49% of Americans facing a shortage have been forced to delay or completely go without treatment for their conditions, 24% have suffered negative health consequences and 32% have experienced mental distress.

A Personal Struggle Amidst Shortage

One example is Floridian Laura Bray, whose daughter Abby, undergoing leukemia treatment, had an allergic reaction to a crucial drug, The Daily Mail reports.

A young girl calmly looks down at her arm while receiving a vaccine injection from a healthcare professional wearing blue gloves. The girl's mother is beside her, providing comfort and support

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The alternative medication, Erwinaze, was in national shortage with an average waiting list of 15 months. However, Laura’s relentless efforts through her nonprofit, Angels for Change, led to acquiring the drug in just 10 days.

The Financial Impact of Drug Shortages

The drug and medical device shortages are leading to increased costs, which are ultimately borne by consumers. Patients face higher out-of-pocket costs and insurance premiums as a result, per information from The Daily Mail

Two customers, a man and a woman, are standing at a pharmacy counter, interacting with pharmacists who are out of view. The pharmacists appear to be working on computers and consulting with the customers

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The financial burden adds to the stress of individuals already struggling to access necessary medical treatments.


Comprehensive Survey Insights

Research based on the US Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey’s week 62 data aimed to quantify the impact of these shortages. It covered prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs, and home medical equipment. 

A woman with short hair and glasses is using a nebulizer mask over her nose and mouth to administer respiratory medication. She holds the nebulizer's mouthpiece with one hand

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This survey was crucial in understanding how these shortages are affecting the lives of Americans across the country.


The Cost Burden on Americans

The financial strain of these shortages is evident, per information from The Daily Mail.

Close-up of a person's hands holding an open, empty black leather wallet. The individual is wearing a red and black plaid shirt

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The report found that of Americans who pay for prescription medication,  31% struggle to afford them, and 57% are actively worried about the price of health insurance and the future of healthcare.


West Virginia’s Distinct Challenge

The Daily Mail reports that West Virginia is the affected state, with almost a quarter of its adult population experiencing medical shortages. 

A map of the United States with the state of West Virginia highlighted in red. The map is color-coded with a pale beige for the other states and light blue for the surrounding water bodies

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The report also shows that 20% of adults didn’t have access to prescribed medicine, which is the highest proportion of people nationwide. This situation is especially concerning given the state’s high rate of drug use.


Other States Facing Severe Shortages

South Carolina and New Hampshire are also severely impacted, with 24% and 23% of adults respectively facing shortages, reported by The Daily Mail.

Roadside view of a green highway sign reading 'South Carolina STATE LINE' and 'Chesterfield County' against a backdrop of a rural landscape with a winding road

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These states, along with West Virginia, are dealing with substantial medical staffing shortages, which exacerbates the problem of accessing necessary medications.


Comparatively Lower Impact in Some States

In contrast, states like Hawaii, Wisconsin, and Vermont are less affected by drug shortages.

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They report only 11%, 14%, and 15% of adults struggling with this issue in the past month, The Daily Mail reveals.


The FDA’s List of Shortages

Currently, there are 123 drugs listed by the FDA as being in short supply. This list includes medications used to treat a variety of different conditions, indicating the breadth of the shortage problem.

A close-up of a person's hands, one hand tilting a prescription bottle and pouring out green and blue capsules into the other hand

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The Daily Mail reports that the situation is critical, with drug shortages affecting everything from children’s fever medicines to essential hospital drugs, reflecting the healthcare system’s vulnerability to supply chain disruptions and manufacturing issues.