Drug Shortages

Our goal at UofL Health is that we must deliver high-quality, patient-centered care. Currently, many drug shortages are affecting our community members, making it hard for them to get the proper treatment they need for their health conditions. Drug shortages are medication supply issues affecting how a pharmacy prepares or dispenses a medication product.

Why do Drug Shortages Occur?

Drug shortages can be caused by multiple factors, including demand issues, supply issues and regulatory issues, such as the following:

  • There is an increased volume of prescription medications.
  • There is a unique market where consumers cannot control prescription choices.
  • Drug manufacturers may have limited medication ingredients or containers from suppliers.
  • Production delays can occur with events including natural disasters at the manufacturing location.
  • Production could be lowered or stopped due to quality issues and manufacturing standards, low consumer demand or increased production costs.
  • Drug distribution and allocation could be restricted.
  • Wholesalers and pharmacies may have implemented new inventory practices.

Do Individuals Need to Work with Their Pharmacist or Provider?

All patients should work with their pharmacist or provider when impacted by a drug shortage to find a solution that works best for the patient. The provider can prescribe the patient an alternate agent or advise them about the delay in medication therapy. The medication can be substituted for a similar one if the patient’s provider authorizes the pharmacist to do so. Pharmacists and providers will be able to work together to identify which patients require more urgency to receive the drug that is in short supply and which patients will receive an alternate medication.

If Medication Costs Increase Due to a Drug Shortage, What Are Some Helpful Tips for Lowering the Price?

If your medication prices increase, you can collaborate with providers, pharmacists, manufacturers and prescription benefit providers to access cost-saving options. These programs are offered through several drug manufacturers and can be accessed by reaching out through their website or calling them so they can provide you with more details. Furthermore, there are also state, federal, and pharmacy-funded programs that offer patients cost-saving opportunities.

The prescription benefit provider may deny coverage or require prior authorization (PA) when a patient is prescribed an alternate medication due to a drug shortage. The prescriber’s designated staff need to work to get the PA approved. The approval process can take several days.

Are You Impacted by a Drug Shortage?

Health care professionals constantly strive to give the best possible care to others in need, and they are more than happy to assist with hardships such as drug shortages. All patients should become aware of drug shortages when taking medication to be prepared if some processes change briefly. Find out about current drug shortages here.

Many patients consider switching pharmacies when they are experiencing drug shortages. Although this may be a short-term option, it creates additional concerns by pushing the problem to a different location and losing the continuity of care between patients and pharmacists. If you are impacted by a drug shortage, have conversations with your health care team members and be patient with them. This will help you experience the best possible care.

Prevention of Drug Shortages

Pharmacists in health care systems such as UofL Health serve on medication response teams with other health care professionals to evaluate the safety, efficacy, availability and cost of medications. When alternate medications are identified, the new process will be able to be implemented throughout hospitals and medical centers so these medications can be prescribed, prepared, distributed and administered.

National pharmacy organizations are constantly working with the FDA. They are finding solutions to drug shortages and how to prevent changing or delayed medical procedures, increasing medication costs and limiting treatment options. They are always finding ways to provide patients with the best care and fulfill their needs.

UofL Health – Pharmacy is Here to Help

UofL Health has the following outpatient pharmacy locations for your medication and pharmacy needs:

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Tina M. Claypool, Pharm.D, CDCES, BCACP

Tina Claypool, Pharm.D., CDCES, BCACP, is a clinical pharmacy specialist at UofL Health – Pharmacy. Tina serves as the supervisor of ambulatory care pharmacy and collaborates with employees and their dependents in the UofL Health Medication Management Program. Tina is a certified diabetes clinical education specialist and board-certified ambulatory care pharmacy specialist. Together with patients and their health care team, Tina helps those living with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia achieve improved health and maximize their personal role in self-management. Tina has recently served as president of the Kentucky Society of Health-System Pharmacists (KSHP). She is a member-at-large of the Kentucky Diabetes Network Leadership Team and a member of the Bluegrass Obesity Society. She is enthusiastic about pharmacists serving in the roles where they are best – medication experts, patient advocates and patient health educators. Tina enjoys collaborating with health care professionals and administrators to provide progressive pharmacy services that enhance patients’ access to improved health, education and support.

All posts by Tina M. Claypool, Pharm.D, CDCES, BCACP
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