TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- A Congressman investigating worsening shortages of hospital drugs is demanding that secondary drug distributors reveal where they're getting scarce, lifesaving medicines -- and explain the huge markups they charge hospitals.
Letters from a House committee cite an Associated Press report that the shortages are responsible for at least 15 patient deaths and that secondary distributors are selling drugs for chemotherapy, anesthesia and infections for hugely inflated prices, in extreme cases up to 80 times the normal price.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has given five distributors -- companies hospitals say have been offering them hard-to-find drugs at dramatic markups -- two weeks to answer his questions.
"For people to be taking advantage under these circumstances, it ought to be criminal," Cummings told the AP in an exclusive interview.
Currently, there is no federal law against price gouging on medicine. Cummings said he's trying to learn as much as possible about the causes of the drug shortages and the high prices being charged. He said his staff has found that the huge markups mainly are for "life-or-death drugs."
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no federal law against price gouging on medicine? corp greed prevails!
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