99.5% of hospitals struggle with drug shortages

Nearly all community hospitals in the United States are currently experiencing a drug shortage, according to a survey by the American Hospital Association (AHA) released yesterday. Such shortages could create alternative care scenarios for patients that could drive up costs.

In fact, 99.5 percent of 820 community hospitals surveyed last month reported at least one drug shortage in the past six months, according to the AHA. More than 40 percent reported shortages of more than 20 different drugs.

In a prior report released in March, the AHA concluded that such shortages were costing hospitals as much as $200 million a year.

Among those medications in particularly short supply: Anesthetics, emergency care, nutritional and infectious disease drugs were reported by more than 80 percent of the hospitals. Two-thirds also reported shortages of cancer drugs.

A separate survey by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices concludes that shortages are being caused by a scarcity of raw ingredients, enforcement by the Food and Drug Administration that halts production, poor inventory management, and even rumors of drug shortages that leads to hoarding, reports the Wall Street Journal.

For more:
- read the AHA survey (.pdf)
- read the Wall Street Journal article

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