Over the past two years, health care professionals have faced critical drug shortages and price fluctuations the likes of which we’ve never seen before. These shortages are affecting human and veterinary patients alike.
In fact, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) now has a website providing information about current drug shortages, as new ones seem to surface every week.
“FDA recognizes the significant public health consequences that can result from drug shortages and takes tremendous efforts within its legal authority to address and prevent drug shortages. These shortages occur for many reasons, including manufacturing and quality problems, delays, and discontinuations.
FDA is aware that in 2010 there was a record number of shortages and in 2011 FDA has continued to see an increasing number of shortages… As a result of these shortages, health care professionals sometimes face situations where they need to identify suitable alternative medications to treat their patients.” (fda.gov)
What if no suitable alternative exists?
Some drugs, like injectable calcium needed in human and veterinary emergencies, are not available – period. The price of other medications has increased without warning.
Metronidazole, a drug often used for intestinal upset and previously pennies a tablet, is now 75 times more expensive than just six months ago. Understandably, consumers are not pleased and patients at risk (or their families) are afraid.
Some days, we attempt to place a supply order, only to learn a medication is no longer available, or that it’s on extended backorder, or the price has jumped through the roof.
We do our best to keep our pharmacy stocked, our prices competitive, and to search for alternatives when the medication we need is not available. These days, it’s often a real challenge.