Introduction

The availability of essential medications is crucial for patient care and public health. Unfortunately, current drug shortages have become a growing concern in the healthcare industry. These shortages encompass a wide range of drugs, including sterile injectables and oncology treatments, which are often life-saving. In this article, we will explore the various dimensions of drug shortages, their impact on patient care and public health, and how healthcare professionals and regulatory bodies are working to mitigate this critical issue.

The Landscape of Drug Shortages

Sterile Injectables and Oncology Treatments

One of the most concerning aspects of drug shortages is the limited availability of sterile injectables and oncology treatments. These medications are vital for various medical conditions, including cancer treatment and life-saving interventions. The shortage of such drugs poses a significant threat to patients’ health and well-being.

Impacted Areas of Medical Care

The repercussions of drug shortages ripple through different facets of medical care. Medical procedures that rely on specific medications may be delayed or even postponed due to the unavailability of necessary drugs. Treatment protocols may need to be adjusted, and healthcare professionals are forced to explore alternative treatments or therapies, which can affect patient outcomes.

Medication Errors and Patient Health

When healthcare providers are faced with drug shortages, there is a heightened risk of medication errors. The need to use alternative drugs or adapt treatment plans can lead to confusion, potentially resulting in medication errors. These errors can have severe consequences for patient health, leading to complications or adverse effects.

Economic Impact

Beyond the immediate health concerns, drug shortages also have significant economic implications. Hospitals and healthcare facilities may need to procure drugs at higher prices, impacting their budgets. Additionally, the need to find alternatives or manage complications due to drug shortages can drive up healthcare costs.

Regulatory Response

FDA and Manufacturer Collaboration

To address the issue of drug shortages, manufacturers are required to notify the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about impending or ongoing shortages. This notification allows the FDA to collaborate with manufacturers to prevent the shortage from becoming more severe. Timely intervention is critical in ensuring a stable drug supply.

Drug Shortage Bulletins

The Drug Information Service of the University of Utah provides Drug Shortage Bulletins, which are a valuable resource for consumers and healthcare professionals. These bulletins contain up-to-date information on current drug shortages and can be sorted by generic name or revision date. Information related to affected products, reasons for the shortage, estimated resupply dates, and alternative therapies is included for each drug.

List of Drugs Affected by Shortages

To illustrate the breadth of the issue, here is a list of some of the drugs affected by shortages:

Lidocaine Hydrochloride Oral Topical Solution (Viscous) 2%
0.9% Sodium Chloride 10 mL, 20 mL, and 50 mL Preservative Free Vials and Syringes
0.9% Sodium Chloride Flush Syringes
0.9% Sodium Chloride Irrigation
0.9% Sodium Chloride Large Volume Bags
0.9% Sodium Chloride Small Volume Bags (< 150 mL)
10% Dextrose Injection
14.6% Sodium Chloride Concentrated Solution for Injection
2% Lidocaine Hydrochloride Topical Jelly
23.4% Sodium Chloride Injection
25% Dextrose Injection
5% Dextrose Injection (PVC-free and DEHP-free)
5% Dextrose Injection Large Volume Bags
5% Dextrose Injection Small Volume Bags
5% Lidocaine and 7.5% Dextrose Injection
50% Dextrose Injection
70% Dextrose Injection Large Volume Bags
Acetaminophen Suppositories
Acetazolamide Injection
Acetylcholine Chloride Powder for Intraocular Solution
Acetylcysteine Oral and Inhalation Solution
Activated Charcoal Oral Suspension
Acyclovir Injection
Adenosine Injection
Albumin (Human) Injection
Albuterol Inhalation Solution
Albuterol sulfate and Ipratropium Bromide Inhalation Solution
Albuterol Sulfate Metered Dose Inhalers
Alfentanil Injection
Alfuzosin Extended-Release Tablets
Alprostadil Urethral Suppositories
Alteplase Injection
Amifostine Injection
Amino Acid Products
Aminocaproic Acid Injection
Aminophylline Injection
Amiodarone Injection
Ammonia Inhalant
Amobarbital Sodium Injection
Amoxicillin and Clavulanate Oral Presentations
Amoxicillin Oral Presentations
Amphetamine Extended-Release Oral Presentations
Amphetamine Mixed Salts, Immediate-Release Tablets
Liposomal Amphotericin B Injection
Amphotericin B Injection
Amphotericin B Lipid Complex
Ampicillin Injection
Ampicillin Sodium and Sulbactam Sodium Injection
Amyl Nitrite Inhalation
Anticoagulant Citrate Dextrose Formula A (ACD-A)
Argatroban Injection
Artesunate Injection
Asparaginase Erwinia chrysanthemi
Aspirin Suppositories
Atracurium Injection
Atropine Sulfate Injection
Atropine Sulfate Ophthalmic Ointment
Azacitidine Injection
Azithromycin Injection
Bacitracin Ophthalmic Ointment
Bacteriostatic 0.9% Sodium Chloride Vials
Bacteriostatic Water for Injection
BCG Live Intravesical
Becaplermin Topical Gel
Belladonna and Opium Suppositories
Benzoin Tincture
Betamethasone Acetate/Betamethasone Sodium Phosphate Suspension for Injection
Betaxolol Tablets
Bleomycin Sulfate Injection
Budesonide Suspension for Inhalation
Bumetanide Injection
Bupivacaine Injection
Bupivacaine with Epinephrine Injection
Busulfan Injection
Butorphanol Injection
Cabergoline Tablets
Calcitriol Oral Solution
Calcium Acetate Oral Capsules and Tablets
Calcium Chloride Injection
Calcium Disodium Versenate Injection
Calcium Gluconate Injection
Capecitabine Tablets
Carboplatin Solution for Injection
Carisoprodol Tablets
Cefazolin Injection
Cefdinir Oral Presentations
Cefepime Injection
Cefixime Capsules
Cefotaxime Sodium Injection
Cefotetan Disodium Injection
Ceftazidime Injection
Ceftolozane and Tazobactam Injection
Cefuroxime Sodium Injection
Cetirizine Oral Solution
Chloramphenicol Sodium Succinate Injection
Chlordiazepoxide Capsules
Chloroprocaine Hydrochloride Injection
Chlorothiazide Oral Suspension
Chlorothiazide Sodium Injection
Ciprofloxacin Injection
Ciprofloxacin Ophthalmic Solution
Cisatracurium Besylate Injection
Cisplatin Injection
Clindamycin Phosphate Injection
Clonazepam Oral Tablets
Clotrimazole Lozenges (Clotrimazole Troches)
Colestipol Oral Tablets
Collagenase Ointment
Conivaptan Hydrochloride Injection
Conjugated Estrogens and Bazedoxifene
Copper Chloride Injection
Corticorelin Ovine Triflutate Injection
Cosyntropin Injection
Cromolyn Oral Solution
Cyclopentolate and Phenylephrine Ophthalmic Solution
Cyclopentolate Hydrochloride Ophthalmic Solution
Cytarabine Injection
Dacarbazine Injection
Dalbavancin Injection
Dalfopristin and Quinupristin Injection
Dantrolene Sodium Injection
Decitabine Injection
Desiccated Thyroid Tablets
Desmopressin Acetate Nasal Spray
Dexamethasone Sodium Phosphate Injection
Dexmedetomidine Hydrochloride 100 mcg/mL Vials for Injection
Dexmethylphenidate Extended Release Capsules
Dextran Low Molecular Weight (Dextran 40), 10% Injection
Dextrose Oral Gel
Diazepam Injection
Diazepam Oral Solution
Diazepam Rectal Gel
Diazoxide Oral Suspension
Dicloxacillin Sodium Capsules
Dicyclomine Oral Presentations
Digoxin Injection
Digoxin Injection
Diltiazem Hydrochloride Injection
Diphenhydramine Injection
Disopyramide Phosphate Controlled-Release Capsules
Dobutamine Injection
Docetaxel Injection
Dofetilide Capsules
Dopamine Hydrochloride Injection
Doxercalciferol Capsules
Doxorubicin Injection
Doxorubicin Liposomal Injection
Doxycycline Oral Suspension
Droperidol Injection
Dulaglutide Injection
Duloxetine Delayed Release Sprinkle Capsules
Enalaprilat Injection
Enoxaparin Sodium Injection
Epinephrine Auto-Injectors
Epinephrine Injection
Epoetin Alfa Injection
Epoprostenol Injection and Sterile Diluent
Eptifibatide Injection
Erythromycin Ophthalmic Ointment
Esmolol Injection
Estradiol Cypionate Injection
Ethambutol Tablets
Etomidate Injection
Exactamix Valve Sets
Famotidine Injection
Famotidine Tablets
Fat Emulsion
Fentanyl Citrate Injection
Fentanyl Transdermal System
Ferric Subsulfate Solution
Floxuridine Injection
Fludarabine Injection
Flumazenil Injection
Fluorescein Sodium and Proparacaine Hydrochloride Ophthalmic Solution
Fluorescein Sodium Injection
Fluorometholone Ophthalmic Ointment
Fluorouracil Injection
Folic Acid Injection
Fosphenytoin Sodium Injection
Furosemide Injection
Gabapentin Oral Solution
Gemifloxacin Mesylate Tablets
Gentamicin Injection
Gentamicin Sulfate Ophthalmic Ointment
Glucagon Injection
Guanfacine Hydrochloride Tablets
Haloperidol Lactate Injection
Heparin Injection
Heparin Lock Flush
Heparin Sodium Premixed Bags
Hepatitis B Vaccine (Recombinant)
Hydralazine injection
Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen Tablets
Hydrocortisone Sodium Succinate Injection
Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Injection
Hydromorphone Rectal Suppositories
Hydroxocobalamin Injection
Hydroxocobalamin Solution for Intramuscular Injection
Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Tablets
Hydroxyethyl Starch
Hydroxyurea capsules (Droxia)
Hydroxyzine Pamoate Oral Capsules
Hypromellose Ophthalmic Solution
Ibuprofen Oral Suspension (Prescription Products Only)
Ibutilide Fumarate Injection
Immune Globulin, Intravenous or Subcutaneous (Human)
Indigo Carmine Injection
Insulin Aspart Injection
Insulin Detemir Injection
Interferon alfa-2b Injection
Iodine and Potassium Iodide Topical Solution
Iodixanol Injection
Iohexol Injection
Iopamidol Injection
Iopromide Injection
Iothalamate Meglumine 17.2%
Iothalamate Meglumine Injection
Ioversol Injection
Irbesartan Tablets
Iron Dextran Injection
Isoniazid Injection
Isoniazid Tablets
Isradipine Capsules
Ketamine Injection
Ketorolac Injection
Labetalol Injection
Labetalol Tablets
Lactated Ringer’s Injection
Leucovorin Calcium Injection
Leuprolide Acetate Long-Acting Suspension for Intramuscular Injection
Levetiracetam Extended-Release Tablets
Levetiracetam Immediate-Release Tablets
Levetiracetam Injection
Levofloxacin Oral Solution
Levoleucovorin Injection
Levonorgestrel Oral Tablets (Emergency Contraception)
Levothyroxine Sodium Injection
Lidocaine 5% Transdermal Patch
Lidocaine Injection
Lidocaine with Epinephrine Injection
Liraglutide Injection
Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate Capsules
Lisinopril Tablets
Lithium Oral Solution
Lorazepam Injection
Lorazepam Tablets
Losartan and Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets
Losartan Tablets
Loxapine Tablets
Magnesium Citrate Oral Solution
Magnesium Sulfate Injection
Mannitol Injection
Melphalan Injection
Menotropins – Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone
Meperidine Hydrochloride Injection
Mepivacaine Injection
Methenamine Hippurate Tablets
Methohexital Injection
Methotrexate Injection
Methylphenidate Extended Release Oral Presentations
Methylphenidate Immediate-Release Tablets
Methylprednisolone Acetate Injection
Methylprednisolone Sodium Succinate Injection
Metoclopramide Injection
Metoprolol Injection
Metronidazole Hydrochloride Injection
Midazolam Injection
Mineral Oil and Petrolatum Ophthalmic Ointment
Misoprostol Tablets
Mitomycin Injection
Multiple Electrolytes Large Volume Solutions for Injection
Multiple Vitamins for Infusion
Mycophenolate Mofetil Capsules and Tablets
Mycophenolate Sodium Delayed-Release Tablets
Nalbuphine Injection
Nefazodone Tablets
Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates and Dexamethasone Ophthalmic Ointment
Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates Genitourinary Irrigant
Neomycin Sulfate Tablets
Nirsevimab-alip Intramuscular Injection (Beyfortus)
Nitrofurantoin Oral Suspension
Nitroglycerin Injection
Nitroglycerin Sublingual Powder
Nizatidine Capsules
Norepinephrine Bitartrate Injection
Nystatin Topical Powder
Octreotide Injection
Ofloxacin Ophthalmic Solution
Olanzapine Intramuscular Injection
Ondansetron Hydrochloride Injection
Orphenadrine Citrate Injection
Oseltamivir Oral Suspension and Capsules
Oxycodone Hydrochloride and Acetaminophen Tablets
Oxycodone Hydrochloride Immediate-Release Tablets
Oxymorphone Immediate-Release Tablets
Oxytocin Injection
Paclitaxel Injection
Paclitaxel Protein-Bound Injection
Palifermin Injection
Pamidronate Disodium Injection
Pantoprazole Injection
Penicillin G Benzathine
Penicillin G Benzathine / Penicillin G Procaine
Penicillin G Sodium Injection
Penicillin V Potassium Oral Presentations
Pentostatin Injection
Pentostatin Injection
Phenobarbital Injection
Phenylephrine Ophthalmic Solution
Phenytoin Sodium Injection
Physostigmine Salicylate Injection
Podofilox topical gel
Polyethylene Glycol 3350 With Electrolytes
Polymyxin B and Trimethoprim Sulfates Ophthalmic Solution
Polyvinyl Alcohol (Artificial Tears) Ophthalmic Solution
Posaconazole Injection
Potassium Acetate Injection
Potassium Chloride Injection
Potassium Phosphate Injection
Prednisone Oral Tablets
Prochlorperazine Maleate Tablets
Promethazine Injection
Propofol Emulsion Injection
Propranolol Hydrochloride Injection
Protamine Sulfate Injection
Pyridoxine Hydrochloride Injection
Quinapril Tablets
Racepinephrine Inhalation Solution
Remifentanil Injection
Ribavirin Inhalation
Rifampin Capsules
Rifampin Injection
Rifapentine Tablets
Rifaximin Tablets
Rivaroxaban Oral Suspension
Rocuronium Injection
Ropivacaine Injection
Secobarbital Capsules
Semaglutide Injection
Sertraline Oral Tablets
Sincalide Injection
Sodium Acetate Injection
Sodium Bicarbonate Injection
Sodium Chloride Inhalation Solution
Sodium Ferric Gluconate Complex
Sodium Phosphate Injection
Somatropin Injection
Sterile Water for Injection – Small Volume Vials
Sterile Water for Irrigation
Streptozocin Injection
Sucralfate Tablets
Sufentanil Injection
Sulfacetamide Sodium and Prednisolone Acetate Ophthalmic Ointment
Sulfacetamide Sodium and Prednisolone Sodium Phosphate Ophthalmic Solution
Sulfasalazine Enteric-Coated and Immediate-Release Tablets
Tedizolid Injection
Tedizolid Oral Tablets
Temazepam Capsules
Terbutaline Sulfate Injection
Testosterone 2% Topical Gel
Testosterone Cypionate Injection
Testosterone Transdermal System
Theophylline 24-Hour Extended Release Capsules and Tablets
Thiamine Injection
Thrombin Topical Solution (Bovine) and Powder (Recombinant)
Timolol Ophthalmic Gel Forming Solution
Timolol Ophthalmic Solution
Tirzepatide Injection
Tocilizumab Injection
Topotecan Capsules
Tramadol Tablets
Tretinoin Capsules
Triamcinolone Acetonide Intravitreal Injection
Triamcinolone Hexacetonide Injection
Trimethobenzamide Injection
Tropicamide Ophthalmic Solution
Trypan Blue Ophthalmic Solution
Valganciclovir Oral Presentations
Valproate Sodium Injection
Valsartan and Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets
Valsartan Tablets
Vancomycin Hydrochloride Injection
Varenicline tablets (Chantix)
Vecuronium Bromide Injection
Verapamil Extended-Release Tablets
Vinblastine Sulfate Injection
Vitamin A Injection
Vitamin K (Phytonadione) Injection
Zoledronic Acid Injection

Current drug shortages present a substantial challenge to patient care and public health. The lack of essential medications, particularly sterile injectables and oncology treatments, can lead to delays in medical procedures, increased medication errors, and financial strain on healthcare facilities. Collaborative efforts between the FDA and drug manufacturers, along with the availability of Drug Shortage Bulletins, are vital steps in mitigating these shortages and ensuring access to necessary medications.

FAQs

1. How do drug shortages impact patient care?

Drug shortages can lead to delays in medical procedures, increased medication errors, and a need to explore alternative treatments, all of which can affect patient outcomes.

2. What role does the FDA play in addressing drug shortages?

The FDA collaborates with manufacturers to prevent or mitigate drug shortages by requiring timely notifications about impending or ongoing shortages.

3. How can healthcare professionals stay informed about current drug shortages?

Healthcare professionals can refer to Drug Shortage Bulletins, which provide up-to-date information on affected drugs, reasons for shortages, estimated resupply dates, and alternative therapies.

4. Are there any specific types of drugs more susceptible to shortages?

Sterile injectables and oncology treatments are particularly vulnerable to shortages, which can have a profound impact on patient care.

5. What can patients and healthcare providers do to mitigate the impact of drug shortages?

Patients and healthcare providers should stay informed about current shortages, work closely with healthcare facilities to explore alternative treatments, and report any concerns to the FDA or relevant authorities.