The Impact of Drug Shortages

November 2020 - Vol.17 No. 11 - Page #52

As drug shortages have become the norm in virtually every hospital across the country, pharmacy has made significant strides toward systemizing their response to shortages. Pharmacy benefited this year from strong investments in staff and resources dedicated to shortage management coupled with a small decrease in the number of active shortages. Nonetheless, the search for replacement products is quite disruptive, requiring inventory increases and additional reliance on compounding.

Pharmacy is increasingly likely to have a dedicated employee assigned to managing shortages. Just over half of all facilities have established a dedicated position to respond to shortages.

There was a slight decline this year in the amount of time pharmacy spends responding to shortages; nonetheless, most facilities dedicate up to 10 hours per week to these activities.

Shortages are both expensive and time consuming to manage; they typically require inventory increases as well as expansions of in-house and outsourced compounding volumes.

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While pharmacy buyers do the lion’s share of the work managing drug shortages, facility size has a strong impact as to who is assigned these tasks. Small facilities tend to rely on pharmacy technicians, mid-sized facilities assign this role to pharmacy buyers, and the largest facilities look to pharmacists to respond to shortages.

The number of facilities confident in their shortage management capabilities continues to grow; 71% of all facilities assert that they have sufficient resources to address shortages.



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