Premier releases new publication on drug shortages and supply chain challenges

Feb. 10, 2022

According to new statements from Premier, Inc, they have published a new publication, INSCRIPT, which looks at how U.S. healthcare providers continue to navigate about 200 active drug shortages every quarter, shortages that contribute to millions more in annual costs and less-than-optimal patient care therapeutic choices. While pharmaceutical supply chain disruptions​ remain prevalent, progress has been made in deploying innovative strategies that help improve resiliency and access.

For more than two decades, Premier and its members have taken a leadership role in tackling drug shortages head on. The inaugural edition of INSCRIPT, is a new Pharmacy thought leadership publication, with insights and recommendations on managing and mitigating current and future drug shortages. 

Documented shortages in recent months have included essential medications like diluents, fluids, anticoagulants, emergency drugs, antibiotics and more. As of December 2021, Premier data also shows several drugs vital to ongoing patient care have slipped into shortage as manufacturers prioritized COVID-19 vaccine production ahead of other routine drugs.

While the pandemic exacerbated pharmaceutical sourcing challenges, many of these shortages are the result of marketplace dynamics and cracks in the supply chain that originated long ago.

Extensive research exists to pinpoint the challenges and root causes that contribute to drug shortages. Despite heightened awareness, a fragmented supply chain and lack of visibility has largely left stakeholders in a reactionary mode. In shifting to a proactive approach grounded in innovations that may stave off the clinical impact of disruptions, providers are seeking expertise, insights and data signals to help mitigate the impact of essential medication shortages.  

 According to Premier’s recent survey of 156 health system pharmacists and staff as well as 56 generic drug manufacturers:

  • 94 percent of health system pharmacy leaders and front-line staff have been impacted by interruptions in their pharmaceutical supply in the past 18+ months.
  • Providers primarily receive supply chain updates from their GPO partners and wholesalers, and they ranked confidence in supply availability as the biggest influencing factor in purchasing strategy.
  • Pharmacy leader respondents cited developing shortage risk assessments as the most useful strategy to prevent or mitigate drug shortages.

As providers navigate issues at the end-user level, suppliers face challenges of their own. Generic drug manufacturers rank unpredictable demand and volumes among their top challenges to consistently supply drugs, according to the Premier survey. And when asked what they wished health systems better understood to help prevent or mitigate drug shortages, “participating in a supplier’s committed programs” emerged as the number one opportunity. From a manufacturer’s perspective, redundancies and raw material safety stock are key, but equally important is a steady demand signal from the market.

To make meaningful progress, a combination of diversification, commitment, predictive data, advocacy and market-based strategies are needed.

In truly tackling drug shortages once and for all, pharmacy leaders and supply chain stakeholders must collaborate to influence behaviors that pivot towards quality and sustainability. Sustainable solutions will decrease barriers to entry, namely the time and cost to enter the market, while maintaining product standards and safety.

Download your copy of the INSCRIPT thesis on drug shortages.

Premier release