Drug Shortages Lead to Negative Consequences

Published Online: Monday, November 1, 2004

The first survey to gauge the effect of drug shortages found that these shortages are having negative consequences for patient care and hospital costs. The study, reported in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (October 1, 2004), polled 1500 pharmacy directors in US health systems. The survey was conducted in March 2003 by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and pharmacy residents at John Hopkins Hospital.

The findings indicated that 95% of the respondents believe that shortages have created roadblocks and obstacles to treating patients with the best medication. Of the respondents, 61% believe that the unavailability of certain drugs has jeopardized patient care. Pharmacy directors said that drug shortages have contributed to the delay or cancellation of certain medical procedures, prolongation of patient stays in hospitals, and serious medication errors. The shortages also have resulted in more work for pharmacists. The survey showed that pharmacists spend more time tracking product availability; identifying therapeutic alternatives; and contracting with vendors, manufacturers, and group purchasing organizations to buy therapeutic alternatives.

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