Medication shortages are a problem that neither veterinarians nor pharmacists want to have to face, but sometimes we are forced to deal with them. Global trade is very important for many of our supplies, and this includes medications. Disruptions in the supply chain can and will happen due to a variety of factors, which can leave us dealing with medication shortages and affect the quality of care that we provide our patients.
Unfortunately, unexpected events, such as pandemics, wars, and weather, can cause problems in the supply of various goods, including medications, fluids, and necessary materials and equipment. Events such as these can lead to the unavailability of not only active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) – halting the manufacturing of drugs which causes allocations and backorders – but also the unavailability of necessary containers and packaging, labor shortages, and transportation issues. The uncertainty of these events makes it important to have plans in place should a problem arise. Some ways you can ensure that your veterinary clinic or hospital is adequately prepared include:
- For veterinary practices with a pharmaceutical service, staying in contact with the director of pharmacy to make sure there is a plan in place should a shortage occur and to stay informed regarding any current/ongoing shortages of medications or fluids
- Keeping in contact with veterinary distributors and/or pharmaceutical suppliers and knowing how they may reach out with information about a shortage for specific medications
- When making a therapeutic recommendation and writing a prescription, refer to current medication allocations and backorders to know what alternative medication(s) is/are appropriate to prescribe if the typical drug of choice is unavailable
- Becoming familiar with resources that can provide information regarding medication shortages and developing habits to check these resources regularly (especially if you are aware of an event that may affect medication and supplies)
- Optimizing your practice in order to avoid unnecessary overstocks and loss of revenue, while ensuring you have enough medication on hand to meet your expected demand
Resources for Information on Drug Shortages
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/drugshortages/
- FDA. fda.gov/animal-veterinary/product-safety-information/currentanimal-drug-shortages
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. ashp.org/drug-shortages/current-shortages
Brandon Reif is a PharmD candidate at the UIC College of Pharmacy, Class of 2023.