Drug shortages lead to patient safety concerns

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

June 6, 2012

Hospitals across the country are becoming increasingly concerned about the scarcity of sterile, injectable drugs, a shortage that health officials blame on recent consolidation in the drug manufacturing industry. The reduced number of generic manufacturers producing drugs, as well as manufacturing problems and plant shutdowns, has contributed to the issue. Although medications have occasionally been unavailable in the past, the number of shortages jumped from 56 in 2006 to 250 in 2011, according to data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA has intervened to get early notification from manufacturers that foresee a shortage and to warn pharmacies and hospitals of the potential shortage, but despite these efforts surveys reveal that drug scarcity remains a major issue. Physicians are unable to prescribe the appropriate medication for patients, and may need to change patients’ dosage or work with unfamiliar drug combinations to accommodate for the shortage. 

Source: Reuters