Drug Shortages After the Eastern Japan Earthquake: Experiences in a Tertiary Referral Center

  • Jinichi MoriEmail author
  • Kenichi Hasui
  • Tetsuya Tanimoto
  • Tomoko Matsumura
  • Masahiro Kami
Global Topics


The large earthquake in eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, caused a nationwide drug shortage. The authors investigated the reasons behind the drug shortage and its impacts on clinical practice in a tertiary referral center. From the day the earthquake occurred until September 11, the authors identified shortages of 26 items (2.6% of all drugs in their hospital). The primary shortage causes included the destruction of pharmaceutical plants (n = 24) and packaging factories (n = 1) and a production shift toward other items (n = 1). The nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was associated with shortages of 2 items. During the 6-month study period, drug supply of 6 items recovered, alternatives were introduced for 2 items, and prescriptions were restricted for the remaining 3 items. Recoveries were achieved through the repair of damaged factories (n = 18), importation from foreign countries (n = 2), and production in alternate existing factories (n = 1). Physicians avoided long-term prescriptions of all 11 items, and substituted 4 items with similar brand agents, with the informed consent of patients. Although large-scale disasters inevitably cause drug shortages across broad areas even in developed countries, these shortages can be minimized by the coordinated efforts of clinicians and patients.


disaster pharmaceutical supply chain nuclear accident levothyroxine pharmaceutical company 


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Copyright information

© Drug Information Association, Inc 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinichi Mori
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kenichi Hasui
    • 2
  • Tetsuya Tanimoto
    • 3
    • 4
  • Tomoko Matsumura
    • 3
  • Masahiro Kami
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Internal MedicineTokyo Metropolitan Komagome HospitalTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Division of PharmacyTokyo Metropolitan Otsuka HospitalTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Division of Social Communication System for Advanced Clinical Research, Institute of Medical ScienceUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Department of Internal MedicineJyoban Hospital of Tokiwakai groupIwaki City, FukushimaJapan

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