medicine in short supply  Manufacturing and quality-control problems at several drug firms have led to a shortage of medications -- some for cancer, a U.S. pharmacists group says.

"These are the worst shortages I have ever seen," Thomas Wheeler, director of pharmacy for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago told the Chicago Tribune.

"The most troubling aspect is that it is critical drugs for which there are limited alternatives. Many are involved in cancer care and surgery."

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, a trade group that works with hospital pharmacists, said about 150 drugs are experiencing shortages, three times the number from five years ago, and about 60 are considered by healthcare officials as "medically necessary." The quality issues range from finding toxins and "particulate matter" in medications to inaccurate paperwork, the Tribune says.

In addition, some drug companies no longer make older, generic injectable drugs, which usually aren't as profitable as brand-name medications, the Tribune says. ~