- Posted by Chris Elvidge
- On July 21, 2015
According to the University of Utah Drug Information Service, 265 drugs in the first quarter of 2015 were in short supply in the United States, which is up 74% from just five years ago. The shortage accounts for many types of drugs, including antibiotics, central nervous system drugs, cancer treatment drugs, and those for nutrition and electrolyte balance. Drug shortages can adversely affect drug therapy, compromise or delay medical procedures, and result in medication errors.
The reasons a drug can be in short supply can vary, and range from manufacturing and production
challenges to pricing issues. One pharmaceutical manufacturer faced shortages of a pneumonia drug
when one of its factories underwent maintenance. Another reason for supply shortage can be attributed to
drugs coming off their patent and becoming less expensive. While this is a positive for consumers,
manufacturers often cut back on the production of drugs if the older drugs are not very profitable.
Top Reasons for Drug Shortages in 2014:
Manufacturing – 25%
Supply and Demand – 17%
Business Decision – 9%
Raw Materials – 2%
Unknown – 47%
So what does that mean for patients who are faced with shortages? Some patients receive less effective
alternative treatments. Unfortunately, it also might mean a provider must tell a patient they cannot receive
a treatment at that time.
The Federal Drug Administration is currently working to implement new initiatives to help improve
shortages and hopefully these challenges will be short lived. You can learn more about drug shortages
here – http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/DrugShortages/default.htm.
(Source: Peter Loftus, “US Drug Shortages Frustrate Doctors, Patients,” Wall Street Journal, May 31,