Background Drug shortages are increasing worldwide. Hospital pharmacists manage to minimise their impact on patient care but, despite this, shortages are becoming a public health problem.
Purpose To assess the current situation of drug shortages in a tertiary hospital and the actions proposed to reduce their impact on patients.
Material and methods This is an observational prospective study (February to July 2017). Affected drug, supply disruption/shortage duration, manner in which it was notified to the pharmacy and solution given by the pharmacy were recorded.
Results During the 6 months of study, 128 drug shortages were recorded by the hospital pharmacy (0.97 drug shortages per working day). Twenty-five per cent were notified by healthcare authorities, 25% by the manufacturer and 50% were detected by pharmacists when claiming a delayed order to the supplier. Nineteen per cent of the shortages affected antimicrobials, 18% nervous system drugs, 11% antineoplastics, 9% alimentary tract drugs, 9% ophthalmic drugs, 8% cardiovascular drugs and 26% others.
While in 47% of cases the pharmacy stock was enough to cover patients’ needs during the supply disruption, in 53% of the cases, alternatives had to be located. In this last group, in 77% of the cases an alternative product with the same active substance was found (23% same active drug but different pharmaceutical form, 25% labelling in foreign language that needed further repacking), in 20% the alternative was a different drug with similar indications (detailed information was given to prescribers) and in 3% of the cases compounding was necessary.
73.5% of the shortages solved during the period of study, here the median duration was 19 days (IQR: 7.3–35.3 days). On the other hand, 26.5% remained unresolved when this study finished (median duration of 59 days (IQR: 33–101 days)).
Conclusion In this study, drug shortages were frequent and not always adequately communicated. Although, in most cases the shortage was solved with a product with the same active substance, in a not insignificant percentage of the cases, a different drug was necessary. This is important when considering the most frequent groups of drugs affected (antimicrobials, nervous system, antineoplastics) and the potential implications of a drug change for the patient.
Reference and/or Acknowledgements 1. Drugs. 2016;76:1551–8.
No conflict of interest
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