Drug Shortage Round-Up

Despite some successes in the fight against shortages of critical prescription drugs, recent reports indicate that drug shortages continue to be a significant public health threat. The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health convened a hearing in February to examine recent efforts to address prescription drug shortages, during which the Committee considered new drug shortage reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The reports reaffirmed that the root causes of drug shortages are manufacturing problems, quality issues, and barriers to getting new suppliers on line when supply is disrupted. In its report, GAO specifically recommended that the FDA take two actions to help combat shortages: 1) Develop policies and procedures to ensure the use and accuracy of the data in the existing drug shortages database; and, 2) Conduct periodic analyses using the existing drug shortages database to help proactively identify risk factors for potential shortages early. In its 2013 strategic plan for preventing drug shortages, which was released in October, the FDA also identified a number of actions to help combat drug shortages, including a proposed rule that would require drug and biotechnology companies to promptly notify the agency of potential disruptions to the supply of medically important drugs.

HSCA member Premier, Inc. recently conducted a survey that found that shortages increased U.S. hospital costs by an average of $230 million annually from 2011 to 2013.

The Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA) and its group purchasing organization (GPO) members remain committed to being a part of the solution. HSCA President Curtis Rooney recently wrote about drug shortages in The Hill, describing the innovative steps GPOs have been taking to ensure that hospitals and patients have access to the life-saving drugs they need.

For more details on the steps that GPOs have taken to help mitigate the impact of drug shortages, please visit