Background Drug shortages are becoming more common and may involve a reduction in pharmacotherapeutic efficacy and increased medication errors. Problems caused by medicines’ shortages are serious, threaten patient care in hospitals and require urgent action.
Purpose To analyse the impact of shortages and to describe the different actions carried out by the Pharmacy Department.
Material and methods A retrospective descriptive study was carried out from January 2017 to October 2017. The data collected were: affected drug, duration of the shortage and measures implemented. The data were obtained from the drug shortages’ list of the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS). We analysed every drug included in the hospital pharmacotherapy guide.
Results During the study period, there were 226 drugs affected by supply problems, 172 of them active principles included in our pharmacotherapy guide, specifically 98 pharmaceutical specialties.
The strategies for the management were:
To change the provider or the form of presentation (packaging) in 38 cases (38.77%).
To use a therapeutic alternative in 13 cases (13.26%).
The AEMPS authorised temporarily the importation of six medicines with the outer packaging and package leaflet in a language other than Spanish, but this option was not used.
In eight cases (8.16%) there was controlled distribution of certain drugs just in case of clinical need.
Despite the AEMPS offer to import 17 foreign medicinal products, only nine applications (9.18%) were processed. The foreign medicinal products were relabelled in Spanish before being dispensed in the hospital.
No action was taken in 30 cases due to the low prescription rate in our centre or the availability of sufficient stock.
Conclusion The unpredictability of shortages and lack of information provided to healthcare professionals make it increasingly difficult to plan effective coping strategies to provide medication to patients. In fact, it implies a greater workload for hospital pharmacists due to administrative procedures, the determination of therapeutic alternatives and the need to inform all health professionals so as not to compromise the continuity of treatment, increased stress and confusion within safety-critical working environments, the frequent high costs of procuring alternative medicines and the cancellation of service improvements due to resources needing to be reallocated to deal with medicines’ shortages.
No conflict of interest
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