AHA Blog: Drug Prices and Shortages Threaten Patient Access to Quality Hospital Care

May 23, 2024
The American Hospital Association's blog highlights the detrimental impact of high drug prices and shortages on patient outcomes and hospital operations. With nearly 30% of Americans unable to afford medication, and drug shortages adding 20% to hospitals' expenses, the situation is becoming unsustainable.

On May 22, the American Hospital Association (AHA) published a blog entitled, “Drug Prices and Shortages Jeopardize Patient Access to Quality Hospital Care.”

The blog says that “The inability of many patients to obtain needed drug therapies due to either high prices or shortages has negatively affected patient outcomes. Nearly 30% of Americans say they haven’t taken their medication as prescribed due to high drug prices, and it is estimated that more than 1.1 million Medicare patients alone could die over the next decade because they cannot afford to pay for their prescribed medications.”

Further, “The high prices for drugs and shortages of many critical drugs like chemotherapy and IV saline bags also impact hospitals’ ability to provide a range of services to their communities, contributing to wider problems with access to care. Hospitals are major purchasers of drugs for use in patient care, and acquiring costly medicines and securing alternative therapies during a shortage are consuming a larger share of hospitals’ finite resources. As drug prices continue to rise, hospitals have fewer resources available to finance other parts of their operations, such as paying staff and purchasing other supplies needed for patient care.”

In a paper by the AHA, the organization highlights the range of cost-related challenges that hospitals face. A new infographic from the AHA also highlights the recent trends including:

In 2023, drug companies continued to introduce new drugs at record prices while existing drug prices skyrocketed and consistently outpaced general inflation.

Drug shortages were the highest in a decade exacerbating hospitals’ challenges.

Managing drug shortages adds as much as 20% to hospitals’ drug expenses.

“Though the problem of high drug prices is not a new issue for hospitals and health systems, the rate at which drug prices are increasing combined with the problem of drug shortages is becoming unsustainable for the field and having a direct impact on patient outcomes,” the blog adds.” “Higher drug prices and increasing drug shortages mean more costs for hospitals and health systems to bear, further stretching their limited resources and ultimately jeopardizing patients’ access to needed care.”

About the Author

Janette Wider | Editor-in-Chief

Janette Wider is Editor-in-Chief for Healthcare Purchasing News.