Hospital Drug Shortages Reach 10-Year High, Cost Hospitals $200M Annually

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , March 30, 2011

A different size of a drug, or a different strength "can lead to a host of errors, especially with look-alike, sound-alike medications. It undermines error prevention or as we like to think about it, the reliability of our system," Caponi said.

Asked to comment on Premier's report, Maya J. Bermingham, senior assistant general counsel for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), said the organization's member companies "recognize the importance of avoiding unexpected disruptions in the supply of needed medicines to patients."
To achieve that goal, PhRMA companies work closely with the FDA, supply chain partners and providers when unexpected shortages do occur, she said.
However PhRMA would not comment on the Klobuchar's proposed bill, saying that the group is still reviewing it.
She attributed drug shortages to "natural disasters, shifts in clinical practices, wholesaler and pharmacy inventory practices, raw material shortages, changes in hospital and pharmacy contractual relationships with suppliers and wholesalers that can cause fluctuations in the availability of certain products."
She said other factors include "adherence to FDA-mandated distribution protocols, which can impact patients' timely access to medicines, individual company decisions to discontinue specific medicines and manufacturing challenges."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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