Background Drug supply shortages are not uncommon and their frequency and duration are increasing essentially because of production issues. The absence of advanced warning from drug manufacturers may affect the delivery of patient care. Drug supply shortages have several consequences on pharmacy departments and by the way on care services.
Purpose To quantify these shortages and their impact in our hospital.
Material and methods The drug supply shortages are regularly monitored in the pharmacy department using data collection with the following items: the drug, the manufacturer, information about the source of disruption, dates of beginning and end, the substitute treatment. The data collected between September 1st, 2013 and August 30th, 2014 was analysed.
Results One hundred and seventeen drug shortages were recorded: 48% were injectable drugs, 43% oral drugs and 9% external medicines. On average, five drugs per week (range, 1–13) were in short supply and the shortage lasted 65 days (range, 3–329). The pharmacy service was alerted by: the group purchasing organisations (42%), the French drug agency (20%) or the supplier (18%). Substitute treatments were proposed in 68% of shortages by the group purchasing organisations but only in 8% by the supplier. In 13% of the cases, there was no therapeutic alternative. The main impact of drug shortages on pharmacy services was the amount of time spent by staff repeatedly managing this problem: choice and creation of substitute treatment, order processing, purchases for account, information to the physicians. In addition, in the wards, changing treatment or the use of less familiar alternative drugs may raise patient safety issues.
Conclusion The drug supply shortages are a public health problem. It would be interesting to estimate the financial impact at the origin of the staff workload.
References and/or acknowledgements No conflict of interest.