Background Medicines shortages are an increasingly common problem. Hospital pharmacists have to devote time and resources to trying to supply medicines, and this may result in increased costs, confusion for patients and other healthcare professionals and distraction from providing other services.
Purpose The extent to which the medicines shortage problem is affecting hospital pharmacy across Europe is not widely appreciated or documented. Accordingly the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) conducted two surveys to try and established the frequency, geographical location and types of medicines in short supply. The second survey focused on the impact of shortages on patient care, perceptions of cause and potential solutions.
Materials and methods Both surveys were circulated to national Member Associations of the EAHP and promoted publicly via the EAHP website and social media. The first survey was open for a period of 6 months and the second survey for 3 months.
Results In the first survey a total of 341 hospital pharmacists from 31 countries replied with the top responding countries being the UK (14.2%) and Portugal (13.6%). 98.8% (339/341) of the respondents replied that shortages had been a problem in the last 12 months, with medicines used in oncology (70.6%), emergency (43.8%) and cardiology (35.1%) the most commonly reported categories in short supply. Medicines shortage problems were reported as being a weekly, sometimes daily occurrence for 63.1% of respondents, occurring typically once a month for 27.1% and only occasionally in a year for the remaining 9.7%. When asked which kind of medicine they experienced shortages with most commonly, overall hospital pharmacists reported that shortages of generic medicines (57.1%) were more common than those of originator medicines (42.9%).
In the second survey 50.7% of the 221 respondents from 29 countries replied that medicines shortages were adversely affecting patient care. 76.5% of respondents stated that the situation in relation to medicines shortages had become worse in the last 12 months. The most commonly perceived cause of shortages was supply chain vulnerability and the most popular suggested solution was stronger legal requirements for manufacturers to ensure a reliable supply of medicinal products for which they hold a licence to manufacture.
Conclusions These surveys confirm that many hospital pharmacists in Europe are affected by medicines shortages and this problem is getting worse. This issue affects other stakeholders and it is important to find ways of preventing patients from being affected.
No conflict of interest.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.