Background and importance A temporary shortage of drugs is an important public health problem as patient care is at risk. In Italian legislation, ‘shortage’ means a drug that cannot be found throughout the country, as the holder of its marketing temporarily cannot ensure an appropriate and continuous supply. The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) constantly monitors drug shortages and makes them public. By ‘unavailable’, we mean a medicine that cannot be immediately processed by the holder following an order. No state authority monitors this phenomenon.
Aim and objectives NHS pharmacists are constantly busy managing these deficiencies. In 2018, the Italian Society of Hospital Pharmacy (SIFO), with the support of AIFA, decided to start a project called ‘DruGhost’, which plans to activate and feed a web based platform for the unavailability of drugs.
Material and methods A web application (DruGhost) was created. It is in an experimental phase, limited to five Italian regions, where notifications of unavailability of drugs are entered by members of the SIFO. It consists of a form that allows the reporting of unavailability, and a web based database that collects all the reports that have been approved by the validators. It is accessible to all SIFO members and it can be consulted with the aid of filters (drug, keyword, AIC, manufacturer, region of the reporting facility, beginning of unavailability and reporting date).
Results An analysis of the reports entered in six months of use found 73 reports: 70 referred to drugs for hospital use (70% antimicrobial, 30% oncological) and three concerned disinfectants. In contrast, analysing the number of accesses to the database, it emerged that 845 consultations were carried out: most (70%) were carried out by pharmacists belonging to hospitals located within the regions subject to the experimentation, while the remaining 30% originated from other regions.
Conclusion and relevance DruGhost will be a source to analyse and quantify the phenomenon of unavailability which often precedes a shortage and is a priority topic for pharmacists and the AIFA. It will help to find suppliers with product availability and will also create a useful tool as a quality indicator to ‘validate’ and ‘evaluate’ suppliers in procurement procedures.
Conflict of interest No conflict of interest
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