At a time when there is hope for cost savings from top-selling drugs coming off patent, there is a different and disturbing trend developing in the industry.
Physicians and hospitals indicate drug shortages affect the delivery of health care. USA Today reported a record number of drugs (180 drugs) "used in everything from cancer to surgery, anesthesia and intravenous feeding" are running out.
An article in HealthLeadersMedia estimated the shortage costs hospitals $200 million annually.
A recent survey from the American Hospital Association revealed the following.
- 99.5 percent of hospitals reported one or more drug shortage in the last six months
- Nearly half reported shortages of 21 or more
- 82 percent delayed patient treatment as a direct result
- Most purchased more expensive drugs from other sources as alternatives
Ninety-five percent of the hospitals reported shortages for surgery/anesthesia and eighty-eight percent had shortages for pain management. According to the survey, many hospitals (47 percent) experience the shortage on a daily basis.
Some recommend the government consider stockpiling the raw materials and active ingredients for the critical drugs in short supply, similar to the way it stockpiles vaccines and emergency supplies. The Federal Drug Administration is pursuing solutions, such as the importation of drugs, as it did last year for the anesthesia drug, propofol.