Pourmand noted in an email that when doctors use substitute drugs they are less familiar with, there is a risk of medication error, and health care costs could increase as a result. Such errors could include issues with dosages or dangerous interactions between multiple drugs.
“Ultimately, a multifaceted approach involving regulators, manufacturers, providers, and other stakeholders will be required to address this growing public health problem,” Pourmand said.
In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a plan to combat drug shortages. Last spring, the agency also released a mobile app for doctors and pharmacists to search for information about drug shortages.
Pourmand urges emergency departments to plan for shortages. “Current policy initiatives have had a limited effect on addressing drug shortages. Emergency Department providers must be aware of shortages and take an active role in mitigating their effects on patient care.”
“While local and regional systems can collaborate to prepare for shortages and put protocols in place to protect patients to the best of their ability, the root cause of drug shortages should be aggressively explored at the national level by policymakers, manufacturers, physician-led organizations, and patient advocacy groups,” Hawley said.