Consistency is a key goal in product supply, and in terms of drug purchasing, fewer vendor changes can translate directly to cost savings. These savings are realized both from the predictability of pharmacy workloads as well as reductions in on-hand drug inventory. Historically, the ongoing fluctuations in the supply of generic drugs provided in bar coded unit dose format, coupled with intermittent drug shortages, have challenged pharmacy leadership’s ability to maintain strict drug budgets.
To quantify the impacts of these challenges on hospital pharmacies, PP&P polled a random, nationwide sampling of health system pharmacy directors in the third quarter of 2021. A total of 316 responses were received, yielding a confidence interval of 5.34 (95% +/-5.34). The pages that follow illustrate current trends in hospital pharmacy’s utilization of generic medications, including growing budgets, access to tools for addressing shortages, reasons for purchasing off-contract, factors impacting biosimilar purchases, and more.
The survey results underscore that pharmacy is strongly committed to maintaining consistent supplies, and as such, price is not the sole factor on which generic purchasing is based. While there has been little demonstrative improvement in terms of consistent product supply in bar coded unit dose, pricing increases this year were as expected. Ongoing shortages create additional stressors in the drug sourcing process.
In some cases, budget pain points are being addressed via the adoption of biosimilars and specialty pharmacy operations. The addition of biosimilars to formulary has become typical practice across facilities of all sizes. Implementations of specialty pharmacy operations are not as widespread; yet, there is growing interest among pharmacy leaders looking to add specialty pharmacy services.
For two-thirds of hospital pharmacies, price is not the default decision point when choosing a generic manufacturer.
The decision process for selecting a generic manufacturer incorporates a variety of factors. In addition to price, the ability to consistently supply the product, unit dose availability, contract status, and product quality are key considerations. Bar code label quality also weighs into this decision for most facilities.