Drug substitutions or changes in administration of the medications has also resulted in increased costs for patient sand the healthcare system, the ASA said. Longer operating room recovery times are another negative consequence stemming from the use of less optimal anesthesia medications, with 49% of respondents reporting that impact.
Anesthesia medications were identified as one of three categories of medications, along with oncology and anti-infective drugs, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report on drug shortages in December.
"Our analysis of the causes of 15 sterile injectable drug shortages (involving 5 anesthesia drugs, 5 anti-infective drugs, and 5 oncology drugs) showed that manufacturing problems were the primary cause of most shortages, and over half were exacerbated by multiple difficulties after the drug initially went into short supply," the report said.
The GAO recommended that "Congress should consider establishing a requirement for manufacturers to report to FDA any changes that could affect the supply of their drugs. In addition, FDA should enhance its ability to respond to drug shortages, for example, by developing an information system to manage data about shortages. HHS outlined actions it plans to take that are consistent with GAO’s recommendations."