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Drug Shortages More and More Frequent

Has it seemed like there are more and more products that are getting harder to get?  I just read an article in the Indianapolis Recorder talking about critical drug shortages.  It is interesting that a niche Indianapolis periodical has picked up on what is becoming major issue for health care providers and patients.  For clinics that dispense medications to their patients, it can be very disruptive to practice patterns.  Patients with chronic ailments relay on that periodic visit to review their condition and receive their medication at the point of care.  For acute patients, the inability to get the right product at the right time can slow their recovery.

Why are we seeing shortages of pharmaceuticals?  Raw materials shortages, reduced production of less profitable products, FDA recalls (many of these) and the occasional medication that is declared unsafe and removed from the market (like propoxyphene) can affect drug supply.  For dispensing clinics, we are seeing shortages of corticosteroid products, ophthalmic ointments and a host of lotions and creams of varying types.  The shortage of these clinical pharmaceuticals challenges practitioners in resolving ailments.  In some cases, we’ve seen shortages of injectable drugs but the biggest issues in the world of medication dispensing have been common, prepacked pharmaceuticals.

What can you do?  In some cases, we’ve been able to identify comparable products or substitutes for our clinic customers.  Of course, those usually don’t last long if it is a major shortage.  In the case of FDA recalls, manufacturers typically address the issues and get back into production fairly quickly.  Some of the raw materials shortages we’re seeing right now are more challenging because the supply chain has little ability to impact availability of many of the raw materials.  Physicians and nurses are evaluating their use of many of these products and searching for alternatives to solve patient issues.  In some cases, it is simply a matter of paying a higher price for the same product.  More often, practitioner and patient must grin and bear it.

The bottom line?  These shortages are simply a part of the world we live in and will continue to challenge pharmaceutical logistics throughout the country.

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