Background Drug shortage has been reported since several years but has recently reached critical levels. Shortage occurs not only in Europe but worldwide, in all healthcare practise settings and affects potentially all drug classes, raw materials and medical devices. This combination of factors leads undoubtedly to medication overpricing and higher costs to the healthcare system, suboptimal clinical care, more medication errors and adverse events and the loss of patients’ lives. Rational and effective procurement of medicines in foreign countries can be a challenge for hospital pharmacists.
Purpose The objective is to present a framework on medicines importation, with a special focus on European countries.
Materials and Methods Web search on governmental healthcare institutions (i.e. medicines’ agencies), wholesalers, manufactures and other legal suppliers. This work was designed considering the Portuguese drug shortage.
Results A standard operation methodology was designed for searching for new suppliers for special medicines, not marketed or sold out. Search methodology on medicines’ agencies is presented. A short framework for suppliers was filled considering regulatory issues, current good manufacturing practises, place in the drug supply chain, logistics, packaging, pricing, taxes, expedition costs and payment conditions. Web links to suppliers’ websites are included.
Conclusions Importation of medicines at the hospital level is more often part of the daily tasks of pharmacists. When treating critical health conditions, shortages in essential medicines can cause disruptions in patients’ safety and quality of pharmacological treatment.
No conflict of interest.
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