Drug Shortages Cost Providers $200M Annually, Endanger Patient Safety

An analysis by Premier healthcare alliance found that prescription drug shortages cost U.S. hospitals at least $200 million annually through the purchase of more expensive generic or therapeutic substitutes, according to a Premier release.

A Premier survey of 311 hospital pharmacy experts representing 228 hospitals, oncology and surgery centers, outpatient and retail pharmacies and long-term care facilities showed that 90 percent of respondents experienced a drug shortage over a six-month period in 2010. More than half stated they experienced six or more shortages.

Respondents suggested that shortages during 2010:
• Resulted in a delay or cancellation of a patient care intervention (80 percent), with 34 percent suggesting such a delay or cancellation occurred more than six times.  
• Required the purchase of a more expensive product from a "gray market" vendor (42 percent). These vendors collect and resell drugs in short supply at inflated pricing. Gray market vendors are known to charge as much as 335 percent more for a shortage drug.
• Required a pharmacist to compound a drug that should be commercially available but is either in short supply or experienced huge price inflation (60 percent).
Data suggests that the number of drug shortages is increasing. Over the course of a six-month period in 2010, more than 240 drugs were either in short supply or completely unavailable.

Read more on drug shortages:

-Sen. Blumenthal Requests GAO Investigation of Drug Shortages

-6 Strategies for Surgery Centers to Address Drug Shortages

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