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Drug Shortages: National Survey Reveals High Level Of Frustration, Low Level Of Safety

Posted Sep 26 2010 4:05pm

An exhaustive account of frustrations, difficulties, and patient safety concerns came across loud and clear from more than 1,800 healthcare practitioners (68% pharmacists) who participated in our July-September 2010 survey on drug shortages.(1) Many respondents stated that the conditions associated with drug shortages during the past year have been the worst ever, without a glimmer of hope for any improvement in the near future. They feel unsupported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and perplexed regarding why the US is experiencing drug shortages of epic proportion that are often associated with third-world countries. Respondents clearly believe the public is severely impacted by this issue, and several suggest that the problem has risen to the level of a national public health crisis.

By far, respondents were most alarmed by: the ever-increasing volume of critically important medications in short supply; the use of less desirable, often expensive, unfamiliar alternative drugs—if even available; the potential for errors and poor patient outcomes caused by absent or delayed treatment or preventable adverse drug events associated with alternative drugs or dosage forms; the lack of advanced warning about an impending shortage; and precious clinical hours lost to time-consuming activities required to manage drug shortages.

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