Drug Shortages and Their Impact on Patients and Health Care Systems—How Can Systemic and Organizational Frameworks Help to Prevent or Mitigate Them?
Shortages of medicines have been reported worldwide, becoming a public health problem in many countries in recent years. They negatively impact on treatment outcomes, quality and efficiency of patient care, as well as that they pose organizational, managerial and financial burdens on health care facilities and generally—health care systems. Health and well-being of patients is and should always be the top priority for health care decision-makers; however, the variety of vested interests of different stakeholders of the pharmaceutical market makes coping with and preventing drug shortages a very difficult task. Characteristics of drug shortages vary across countries, but several lessons can be drawn based on a collective international experience. The complex nature of drug shortages necessitates an interdisciplinary approach, international collaboration and the application of experience from different scientific spheres. This chapter discusses dimensions of the impact that drug shortages have on patients’ health and well-being, and health care systems. Various measures, systemic and organizational frameworks aimed to prevent or mitigate drug shortages are also discussed, as well as their role in diminishing the impact of drug shortages. The adopted methodology included a non-systematic review of the scientific literature and documents published by organizations active in the health care sector and pharmaceutical markets. This was supplemented by gathering additional information from selected health care system stakeholders and analysts who are dealing with the problem of drug shortages in different countries.
KeywordsDrug shortages Health care quality Health care costs Health care system Health care impact Financial impact
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