June 7, 2016
(Nature) – ‘Compassionate-use’ laws in the United States allow pharmaceutical companies to provide unapproved drugs to patients in desperate need, but many firms provide little or no information on how to request these treatments. They are often reluctant to supply drugs in response to such pleas, especially if drug stocks are limited, although media campaigns on behalf of individual patients can sometimes embarrass firms into providing unapproved treatments. Anecdotes suggest that money and connections are also influential. Now, ethicists and medical experts are testing what they hope is a fairer system to distribute drugs in short supply.
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