Drug Shortages

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Shortages of prescription drugs have been increasing in frequency and severity in recent years and have had an adverse impact on patient care. Many of these shortages involve multisource injectable drug products. Although hospitals and oncology clinics have been especially impacted by these shortages, long-term care pharmacies have also been affected in some cases. There may be a misconception that the vendor pharmacy can control this issue and facilitate acquisition of medications that are in short supply. The Consultant Pharmacist is an important liaison between the pharmacy and the facility, clarifying the situation and providing therapeutic alternatives where possible. The Food and Drug Administration has been involved in monitoring these shortages and, where possible, taking actions to help prevent or mitigate the impact of these shortages.

On October 31, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration released a report reviewing the history of drug shortages and actions that FDA has taken to address the shortages. In response to this report, the FDA also announced a series of steps that are being taken to further address the drug shortage problem. To download the report, or see the actions that FDA is taking, visit this Web page.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, has also released a report that focuses especially on an economic analysis of the causes of drug shortages. This report complements the FDA report.

General Resources

The FDA has a general resource page on drug shortages.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has a Drug Shortages Resource Center, which provides a list of drugs that are currently in short supply, as well as the supply status of these medications.

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