Drug Shortage Framework
Since early 2012 health organizations across the country have been managing a shortage of drugs. It began in February 2012 when Sandoz Canada announced that its production capacity will be reduced for 12 to 18 months. Following that, in October 2012, Hospira, the second largest provider of injectable medications, advised it will have a shortage of critical drugs, with its capacity reduced until at least the first quarter of 2013-2014. To date, there is no word as to when production capacity at either company will be restored to normal.
The affected drugs are mostly injectable products, which are used primarily in hospitals and institutional settings, including anesthesia, antibiotics, pain management and anti-nausea medications.
Injectable drugs are typically used in hospital settings and for patients who, for one reason or another, don’t take oral medications. The most immediate impact of this shortage is a closer review of individuals who have been offered drugs via injection to see if alternate formulations are possible. So, patients who are able to take pills, for example, are more likely to be offered pills first. If patients, residents or clients have any questions or concerns about the drug shortage and how it may impact their care, they are encouraged to speak with their physician or any member of their care team.
Eastern Health’s top priority is to provide quality care to its patients, clients and residents. Although there is no quick solution to alleviate drug shortages in Canada, addressing drug shortages is a joint responsibility between key players in the drug supply and distribution chain, such as manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, governments, regulatory agencies, pharmacy corporations, and pharmacists. To ensure patients receive the quality care they deserve, key players are working closely together to ensure that information is shared in a timely manner and that drug supplies are properly maintained.