Drug Shortages Lead to Negative Consequences

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

The first survey to gauge the effect ofdrug shortages found that these shortagesare having negative consequencesfor patient care and hospital costs. Thestudy, reported in the American Journalof Health-System Pharmacy (October 1,2004), polled 1500 pharmacy directorsin US health systems. The survey wasconducted in March 2003 by the AmericanSociety of Health-System Pharmacistsand pharmacy residents at JohnHopkins Hospital.

The findings indicated that 95% ofthe respondents believe that shortageshave created roadblocks and obstaclesto treating patients with the best medication.Of the respondents, 61%believe that the unavailability of certaindrugs has jeopardized patientcare. Pharmacy directors said that drugshortages have contributed to thedelay or cancellation of certain medicalprocedures, prolongation ofpatient stays in hospitals, and seriousmedication errors. The shortages alsohave resulted in more work for pharmacists.The survey showed that pharmacistsspend more time trackingproduct availability; identifying therapeuticalternatives; and contractingwith vendors, manufacturers, andgroup purchasing organizations to buytherapeutic alternatives.