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Drug Shortages Becoming More Common

I think medications have become the sixth food group on the dietary pyramid. I’m not judging; I pop pills like tic tacs including everything from flax seed oil to vitamins to Excedrin. Yesterday I visited a friend in an assisted living home and he had a virtual smorgasbord of medications on his coffee table. Amongst all this pill popping, it’s amazing the hear about the drug shortage that is burdening our hospitals. Pharmacy training is an important field to help fill the demands.

Fred Couzens reports in The Henderson Press that, “A few weeks ago, a national survey of 820 hospitals revealed, among other things, widespread troubles with keeping adequate supplies of drugs on hand… The survey was conducted by the American Hospital Association.”

“Jason Glick, the local CHW [Catholic Healthcare West] director of pharmacy, says the CHW hospitals mirror the national results in respect to the finding that 99.5 percent of the hospitals had a shortage of one or more drugs in the past six months, and 44 percent experienced a shortage of 21 or more drugs.”

“’We keep a list of medications on short supply, and we’re constantly reviewing the list at staff meetings,’ said the Doctor of Pharmacy who received his PharmD degree from Idaho State University. ‘Generally, we say, let’s make a plan now. So we’re proactive when it comes to drug supplies. It’s much better to have decisions made before the shortage comes up than to ask ourselves, “Now what do we do?”’

“CHW hospitals also order extra inventory to have on hand, when it’s available, if a shortage is predicted or imminent. That policy to buy excess inventory also occurred at 85 percent of the hospitals participating in the survey,” explains Couzens.

The survey also found some interesting facts such as 47% of the hospitals surveyed experienced daily drug shortages, these shortages are driving drug prices up, and restrictions were implemented to get the medications to those who need it most.To prepare for the unavoidable shortages, 47% of hospitals bought a more expensive alternative, 76% bought a more expensive therapeutic alternative and 42% bought a more expensive product from a new distributor.

Those getting pharmacy technician training are going to experience these medical dilemmas first hand. Knowing how to distribute, compensate and prepare for drug shortages are an important part of the job.

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  1. […] are several reasons for these drug shortages such as lack of profitability, consolidation of the drug industry, limited raw materials and […]

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