Chemotherapy, medication for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists for weight loss and diabetes, and local anesthetics were among the drugs most affected by shortages.
Approximately 96% of certified pharmacy technicians involved in a survey said that their pharmacy had drug shortages, according to an analysis conducted by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).1
Respondents to the survey said chemotherapy drugs, medication for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists for weight loss and diabetes, and local anesthetics were among the drugs that had the biggest shortage. These drugs included tripeptide (Mounjaro; Eli Lilly and Company), semaglutide (Wegovy and Ozempic; Novo Nordisk), and lidocaine.1
Of the respondents, 72% indicated that the drug shortages very significantly or significantly impacted their workflow, with 1 individual indicating that it affected patient care and staffing as well. Approximately 35% of pharmacy technicians said that they address drug shortage issues more than 5 times a day instead of regular pharmacy duties.1
Approximately 90% of individuals in the survey recommended alternative drugs when available to address the drug shortage, but 45% of the time, they were unable to fill that prescription. When an alternative is not available, approximately 28.79% of pharmacy technicians were able to utilize the compounding services of their pharmacy or 6.06% were able to refer the patient to another compounding pharmacy. One respondent indicated that their pharmacy runs a weekly shortage call to address shortages.1
"It's no surprise that pharmacy technicians are actively working on solutions to mitigate drug shortages for their patients. I'm impressed by the spirit of collaboration, even outside of the pharmacy where they work," William Schimmel, CEO of PTCB, said in a statement. "Some respondents told us they called drug [representatives] to find medication for their patients. That just shows what a vital part pharmacy technicians play in health care delivery."1
PTCB conducted the survey online in August 2023 and included certified pharmacy technicians with a Supply Chain and Inventory Management Certificate. Approximately 14% were from community pharmacies, 62% were from health-system pharmacies, and 24% were from other pharmacy practice settings.1
As the chemotherapy drug shortage continues, patients, other treatment providers, and the oncology space as a whole have been greatly affected.2 Carboplatin and cisplatin are among the drugs affected by the shortage, which are used to treat a wide variety of different cancers. This has caused treatment providers to stretch out the time between treatment, scrape out the last drop of the vial to create new doses, and, in some cases, prioritize which patients get treatment first. Many treatment regimens have been disrupted, either by the prescriber having to switch to less optimal combinations, switch patients from the type of medication (oral, intravenous), or change the order of drug therapy altogether.2
Additionally, in October 2022, the FDA put out a statement on the shortage of Adderall, which is used to treat ADHD. Due to the shortage, the demand for other methylphenidate formulations increased, causing subsequent shortages for Ritalin and Concerta.3
Although drug shortages are especially prominent right now, pharmacy professionals need to consider all options for patients to continue treatment for affected patients.