Requiring manufacturers to provide notifications of pending drug shortages and creating a national stockpile of drugs in short supply are two solutions that may alleviate the nation's drug shortage issue, according to industry executives and physicians speaking at a Food and Drug Administration meeting.
Industry execs, docs offer suggestions on dealing with drug shortages
Patients and representatives from FDA, trade groups, physician organizations, drug manufacturers, group purchasing organizations, and distributors addressed causes and possible solutions to drug shortages during a day-long meeting.
There were 204 reported drug shortages as of Sept. 9, compared with 211 for the full year of 2010, according to the University of Utah Drug Information Service. The shortages include cancer drugs and propofol, an anesthetic.
Jason Byrd, director of practice management for quality and regulatory affairs at the American Society of Anesthesiologists, cited insufficient federal resources for the FDA and a lack of timely, accurate information from providers and manufacturers as issues exacerbating the shortages.
He said during the meeting that several trade groups, including the American Hospital Association and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, have been meeting since November to discuss the shortages. The group plans to come up with recommendations.
While a number of people agree early notifications about the drug shortages would aid providers, Bona Benjamin of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists said notifications can still be “too little, too late” for pharmacists.
“The ability to plan care is key,” she said.
Another solution, which was recommended by Dr. Lawrence Solberg, was to expand orphan-drug status to some drugs in short supply as an incentive for manufacturers.
The drug shortages have led to increased scrutiny from Washington. The Senate subcommittee on health held a hearing about the increase in drug shortages last week and the FDA announced earlier this month that it is working on a report that will provide recommendations in dealing with the shortages.
Shortages have led some hospitals and health systems to purchase higher-priced drugs from gray-market distributors.
Thomas Moore, president of U.S. operations for Lake Forest, Ill.-based Hospira, said during the meeting that the generic manufacturer has discontinued operations with a dozen distributors with ties to the gray market over the last year and a half.
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