The profession of pharmacy has had a rather interesting and eventful current year. Drug pricing legislature on the national scale is going slowly, a recent gene therapy became one of the most costly approved drug by the FDA, and shortage of drugs and rising costs are still big concerns. Health care providers and organizations continue to pay attention to the opiodic epidemic. Burning out is becoming a problem of considerable notice that needs to be looked at. A novel method for delivering drugs began, and products containing cannabidiol (CBD) multiplied.
Shortages in drug supply seem to show sign of reducing, as pharmacists and technicians dealing with them remain at the sharp end of the spear. For the first, second, and third quarters of 2019, there were 276, 282, and 265 active shortages, respectively. Drug classes that were in particular problematic were antimicrobials, cardiovascular and central nervous system agents, chemotherapy, and electrolytes/nutrition/fluids.1 High-profile shortages of intravenous immune globulin and vincristine took a great deal of the pharmacy staff time and were rather prominent in the general media.
While the impact of a shortage of a drug on a patient is well understood, the implications it has on financial and operational aspects of an organization are reported on less. This year, a survey by Vizient has shed some light on the matter. According to the survey, the annual cost of labor needed to manage drug shortages across US hospitals is $359 million; US hospitals spend 8.6 million personnel hours managing the impact of shortages; and 64% of Vizient member hospitals dealt with more than 21 shortages, 33% faced 6 to 20 shortages, and 3% saw up to 5 shortages.
Civica Rx caused excitement in October when the drugmaker delivered its first generic medication, vancomycin hydrochloride for injection, to a Utah hospital thanks to a partnership with Xellia Pharmaceuticals. When it was founded, Civica Rx said that its goal was to provide a reliable supply of quality generic drugs at reasonable, non-fluctuating prices, alleviating shortages burdens faced by health systems. By working with their supplier partners Exela Pharma Sciences and Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Civica Rx hopes to have up to 16 additional medications in production this year.