While the number of new drug shortages eased this year, the length of ongoing shortages require that staff be assigned to manage shortage responses, from locating alternative products to managing the downstream changes and automation updates that are required with every product switch. Just under half of all facilities rely on a dedicated staff member to respond to drug shortages, and this role is frequently assigned to a pharmacy buyer. While drug shortages result in increasing drug expenditures, it is important to note that they also lead to increases in both the pharmacy workload and on-hand inventory.
Drug shortages quite often involve generic drugs and are so widespread that managing them has become a standard responsibility within pharmacy. Over the past year, 92% of facilities across the US were forced to use alternative products in response to drug shortages, and this number held true across facilities of all sizes.
Most facilities were forced to find alternative products for 6-25 different drugs on shortage over the course of the past year.
The number of facilities facing more than 25 products on shortages annually continued its downturn this year.
Shortage management is assigned to a variety of staff members in the pharmacy, although the pharmacy buyer most often serves in this role. Smaller facilities rely more heavily on pharmacy technicians to manage shortages, while the largest facilities are more likely to assign this task to a pharmacist.