Tackling Low Medication Supplies
and Disruptions in the Supply Chain
Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
Article 3: Drug Shortages (2/2)
In the United States, survey data generated by numerous leading organizations in healthcare have shed light on the health system struggle to obtain medications and the impact on patient care, safety, operations, and finances. The data is staggering. The impact is seen on the micro-level (patients and health systems) as well as the macro-level (nationally and globally). It is important to note that the data available on drug shortages is predominately self-reported data by institutions and professionals surveyed. Drug shortages truly affect all elements of patient care, both within health systems and beyond.
We have seen shortages of antibiotics, cancer treatments, surgery and cardiovascular medications – and even normal saline, to name a few.(1) The number and type of drug shortages can vary among regions, yet their impact has been felt across the globe. The presence of drug shortages has significantly threatened universal efforts to increase access to safe and quality care and has increased costs of care considerably.
There are numerous reasons for why drug shortages occur, including business decisions, manufacturing difficulties or delays, regulatory issues, recalls of products natural disasters (like the hurricane in Puerto Rico), lack of available raw or bulk materials, discontinuations, and the list goes on. While the reason a drug shortage occurs assists in identify an action plan moving forward, health facilities are often left to quickly manage unexpected shortages alone in order to ensure patients receive the care they need.
Although progress had been made to avert drug shortages over the years, they are still occurring at an alarming frequency and continue to have a significant impact. The current realities have only exacerbated the issue.
Information is constantly evolving in the healthcare space. Responsible effort was made to provide accurate information from reliable sources at the time of publication. Information provided in the articles and website is done so in good faith; however, no liabilities for the information (such as errors or omission) exist. The reader should make their own assessment and determination of how they will use the information provided. The author and publisher provide no guarantees of any specific outcome or consequence as a result of utilizing recommendations or information offered in this article. Readers are advised to continuously check the latest updates, practices and guidelines.
1. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Drug Shortages Statistics. https://www.ashp.org/Drug-Shortages/Shortage-Resources/Drug-Shortages-Statistics
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Dr. Rola Kaakeh
CEO, Salus Vitae Group