The Importance of Addressing Drug Shortages in Health Systems

Ben H.

Ben H.

Jun 11, 20232 min read


The Importance of Addressing Drug Shortages in Health Systems

Drug shortages have been a persistent issue in the healthcare industry for years, and it's only getting worse. According to a report by the FDA, the number of drug shortages has tripled between 2005 and 2010. This shortage has significant implications for healthcare providers, who are struggling to keep up with patient demand. In contrast, health systems are reporting success in their first-quarter earnings results. However, these successes can be short-lived if drug shortages are not addressed.

One of the primary reasons for drug shortages is manufacturing problems. The FDA claims that nearly two-thirds of drug shortages are due to manufacturing issues. This could be due to a lack of raw materials or equipment failure. Manufacturers may also discontinue drugs due to low profitability or a lack of incentives to continue production. Health systems must work closely with manufacturers to ensure that they have a consistent supply of essential drugs to meet patient demand.

Another factor contributing to drug shortages is the lack of competition in the market. The FDA also cites that nearly one-third of drug shortages are due to a lack of competition. This is because there are few manufacturers producing certain drugs. When one manufacturer experiences a problem, it can have a significant impact on the supply chain. To address this issue, the government and healthcare providers must work together to encourage more manufacturers to produce essential drugs.

In addition to the manufacturing and competition issues, drug shortages can also be caused by increased demand. This can happen when there is a sudden increase in patient needs for a particular drug. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a surge in demand for drugs such as ventilators and sedatives. Healthcare providers must have a plan in place to anticipate and address these sudden increases in demand.

In conclusion, drug shortages are a significant problem in the healthcare industry that must be addressed. The success of health systems in their first-quarter earnings results can be short-lived if they don't have a consistent supply of essential drugs to meet patient demand. Healthcare providers must work with manufacturers to address manufacturing and competition issues, and have a plan in place to address sudden increases in demand. By addressing these issues, we can ensure that patients receive the care they need when they need it.


  1. "Coming up short: Why drug shortages are occurring", (Glasp)
  2. "Takeaways from health systems' first-quarter earnings results", (Glasp)

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