Obama Reacts to Drug Shortages

November 4, 2011

Political Theory

I recently came across an article that discussed some of the recent executive orders made by President Obama. The article mentioned three executive orders made in the categories of home mortgages, student loans, and drug shortages. The executive order relating to home mortgages was to help homeowners refinance at lower mortgage rates and the one relating to student loans is meant to simplify and lower student loans (Gress). However, the article focused primarily on the executive order referencing the drug shortage. The order instructs the FDA to take action in the areas of expanding its reporting of potential drug shortages,reviewing applications to change production of drugs facing potential shortages at a faster pace, and supplying the Justice department with moreinformation about possible instances of collusion or price gouging.  There are approximately 200 scarce medicines, which is a huge increase from the 2006 estimate of 56 scarce drugs (Gress). Most of the drugs in demand are cheaper generic drugs that don’t yield much profit for their manufacturers. Others, however, are in shortage as a result of, “quality and manufacturing problems, or delays in rec

Drawing on this article and my own personal experience I started to think about what we had learned in class about Machiavelli and “The Prince”. I couldn’t help but wonder how much self-interest and the hopes of getting reelected played a part in his decision to make these orders. In my opinion, I find it to be no coincidence that Obama is starting to make these orders since he will soon have to run for president again.  Healthcare was one of the most important parts of Obama’s platform when he was running in 2008, so it is very strategic of him to make an executive order in the realm of healthcare to remind people of that. He hopes that by making all these mandates it will leave people with a good impression as his four years come to an end. He is making these decisions to show voters that he can overcome the congressional republicans and that he is capable of being in office for another 4 years. In my opinion, I think it is great that these changes are finally being made but it only confirms the fact that politics are Machiavellian. The end Obama hopes to reach is getting reelected so these actions are his means of securing that outcome. I personally think that Machiavelli would support Obama’s actions because he is using these means to justify the end he desires. In addition, these actions are benefiting a lot of people and don’t really raise any moral objection.eiving components from suppliers” (Gress). The issue of drug shortages has become a more important aspect of Obama’s agenda, as there are more instances of people dying as the result of the lack of adequate drugs. As a healthy college student I can even see the impact of these drug shortages in the lives of people around me. Just the other day, one of my roommates had to call six different pharmacies in the area in an attempt to get a prescription filled only to discover that the drug is on backorder at all places until January. With the presidential election fast approaching, President Obama is in the hot seat to fix these sorts of problems.

In conclusion, I post the following questions for discussion. What do you think Machiavelli himself would say about this situation? Do you thinking Obama is acting in Machiavelli self-interest or are these things just a legitimate concern of his? Do you think his actions will be successful in securing his end goal of getting reelected?


Gress, John. “Obama Orders FDA to Help Ease Drug Shortages – Health – Health Care – Msnbc.com.” Msnbc.com. Ed. Associated Press. 31 Oct. 2011. Web. 04 Nov. 2011. <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45102150/ns/health-health_care/t/obama-orders-fda-help-ease-drug-shortages/&gt;.


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