26-Dec-14 9:45 AM  CST

Drug Shortages Continue to be a Problem for Hospitals and Pharmacies Across the Nation

It has been no secret that drug shortages have caused substantial problems in healthcare over the last decade. In 2011 a survey conducted by the American Hospital Association stated that 82% of hospitals in the United States had to delay the treatment of patients due to a medication shortage. This problem becomes particularly worrisome when it affects drugs meant for use in emergency situations. A 2010 report from the Institutes for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) stated shortages of drugs used for critical purposes where responsible for medication errors, adverse drug reactions and even several deaths.

When drugs used for sedation, anesthesia and pain are unavailable, then physicians and pharmacists are forced to look for alternatives to the shorted drugs. Injectable drugs, such as sodium bicarbonate, proprofol, and fentanyl are often hardest hit by drug shortages. Experts say while injectable drugs see the most shortages; they are not the only drug forms in danger of being placed on the shortage list. For example, last year shortages of the antiviral drug Tamiflu and the flu vaccine are thought to be the main reason behind an increase of flu cases in 2013.

The central reason behind shortages is being contributed to drug manufacturers need to costs and consolidate manufacturing. Shortages can also be contributed to unforeseen demand of drugs, lack of raw materials, problems with manufacturing, as well as discontinuation of products. In 2012, in order to assist hospitals and pharmacies, congress passed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASI). The FDASI requires drug manufacturers to notify the FDA when they anticipate a discontinuation or shortage of a drug. Although though many believe this is a move in the right direction, there is no penalty for drug manufacturers that do not comply with FDASI, and the FDA may not force drug manufactures to product products that may be discontinued or delayed.





Amirshini, M., (2014) “U.S. drug shortages puts patients in critical condition (Op-Ed)”LiveScience, http://www.livescience.com/49120-u-s-drug-shortage-puts-patients-in-critical-condition.html, retrieved, 13.December 2014


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Source: Sandy Andrews  

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